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Sherman Oaks arson fires: Person of interest in custody

September 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A person of interest has been taken into custody in connection to a string of arson fires in the Sherman Oaks area.

The man was taken into custody overnight at Moorpark Street and Katherine Avenue. Los Angeles police clarified that he was booked on an unrelated parole violation. They are questioning the man but are not calling him a suspect in the arson fires.

"We will work to confirm anybody's involvement or eliminate their involvement. We will go with the truth and where the information takes us," said David Liske, an arson investigator with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The first fire started at about 8:40 p.m. Wednesday, and within hours, at least six fires were set in total. At least three of those were set along Ventura Boulevard near Woodman Avenue.

Most were dumpster fires. The largest fire started at a commercial building and spread to an adjacent two-story apartment complex, causing $20,000 in damage. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

"It's real sad because this building has been n my family's possession for about 50 years, so it's another child," said Harry Markarian, who owns the commercial building and apartment structure.

The apartments are vacant but Mario Naba was a 12-year resident of the building and had just left five months ago. He considers himself very lucky.

The flames and smoke were so thick, students at Corepower Yoga next door had to quickly evacuate during one of their classes.

"They were telling us we had to get out immediately, so it's pretty terrifying when you have a room full of about 40 people," said Kelly Smith with Corepower Yoga. "It was actually the end when they're all about to go into shavasana, so everybody was at their most relaxed state, and all of a sudden we're having to run out chaotically out onto the streets."

If you have any information about these fires, you're urged to contact the Los Angeles Fire Department's Arson Counterterrorism Department at (213) 893-9800.


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