Police are investigating a series of fires targeting vehicles and property in the Fairfax district that have left residents distraught and on edge.
The arsonist’s most recent victim was a classic Ford pickup truck on South Orange Drive where a completely charred and destroyed chassis is all that remains after being torched.
Investigators with the Los Angeles Fire Department want to catch the suspect or suspects responsible as quickly as possible.
“You guys spent a lot of years back here as children, riding around, bouncing around,” said victim Evan Townsley as he reminisces with his son about the truck, now burnt to a crisp. “We had a lot of good years in this truck.”
Townely was planning to hand down his beloved 1991 Ford F-150 pickup to his son one day. The truck has a long history with the family, once belonging to Townsley’s mother.
But that dream was shattered early Wednesday morning when someone lurking in the darkness set fire to the vehicle.
Firefighters were already extinguishing the blaze before Townsley realized what was happening outside his front door. Fire crews had been nearby responding to other arson calls that morning.
“This is gone,” said Townsley of his truck. “There’s nothing left, it’s not salvageable. It’s a mess. It’s disgusting, it’s sad and I don’t know why somebody would have it in their heart to do this to somebody else for no reason.”
That same morning, possibly the same suspect also torched a neighbor’s car just a block away from Townsley.
“Wednesday morning, we woke up. My husband came outside to go to work and he said, ‘Oh, our side-view mirror is burnt off. I don’t know what happened,’” said a victim who did not want to be identified. “We couldn’t figure it out. Then I got an alert that the neighbor’s truck was torched, so I put things together and realized that we also were targeted.”
The victims are all working with LAFD arson investigators to track down suspect leads.
An investigator tells KTLA that arson is a felony, even if one only sets fire to “rubbish.” He said all fires start small and can grow quickly, causing irreparable damage and even death.
LAFD’s arson unit is investigating a number of recent cases in the Fairfax District, with crimes ranging from setting garbage on fire to burning discarded furniture, vehicles and apartment complex gates and doors.
The incidents were recently reported in the early hours of June 7 between 3 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.
Officials are considering a variety of potential suspects including transients, those with mental illness, someone under the influence of drugs, or even a career “firebug” or arsonist who may be out on probation or parole.
Anyone with information or evidence should contact the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Arson Investigation Unit at 213-485-6095.