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Arson suspect sought in North Hollywood fires

July 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Investigators are searching for an apparent arsonist who ignited as many as 18 home and car fires in the North Hollywood area since Thursday.

Police said the suspect has been setting cars, mobile homes and apartments on fire over the last couple of mornings. In the last two mornings, the fires began popping up after 3 a.m. The Sunday morning fire burned up a carport and parts of an apartment building and charred several vehicles in the 5000 block of Lemp Avenue.

Some people who were home at the time heard popping sounds. Those explosions came from popping tires.

Many residents were asleep when the fire broke out, but one resident and his girlfriend were awake and alerted other residents.

The tenant said he smelled plastic burning and immediately ran to bang on his neighbors' doors.

"The cars, you know, material things. As long as nobody got hurt," the tenant said. "I'm blessed that everybody worked together and nobody got hurt. Whoever is doing this is sick."

Firefighters were also called to a house fire on Beck Avenue, within minutes of the earlier fire. Shortly after that nearing 3:30 a.m., another fire was set on Hatteras Street at an apartment complex.

"When I came out of the garage I seen the smoke and the fire so I pulled right out and called 911," said Michael Wiles of North Hollywood.

Authorities do not have a description of the suspect yet.

All fires have since been put out, and authorities say the suspect seems to be leaving a trail. The arsonist has targeted the area bounded by Lankershim Boulevard on the east, Vanowen Street on the north, Laurel Canyon Boulevard on the west and Burbank Boulevard on the south.

Fires were also put out after flaring up on Elmer Avenue, Beck Avenue, Vose Street, Radford Avenue and Valerio Street.

Officials said they have patrol units and choppers tracking the area. At least two patrol units have been allocated to specifically help with the investigation and patrol for a suspect.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fires.

Anyone with information regarding these fires is urged to contact the Los Angeles Police Department at (877) LAPD-24-7 or (877) 527-3247.

City News Service contributed to this report.


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