Surveillance footage captured a glimpse of a suspected serial arsonist who has allegedly started some two dozen fires in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Mt. Washington, Silver Lake and Glassell Park.
While officials with the Los Angeles Fire Department, the Los Angeles Police Department and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigate, residents in the area have been circulating flyers with an image of the suspect and his car.
“A firebug, nobody needs this guy going around lighting up Cypress trees,” Mt. Washington resident Chris Murphy told KTLA.
LAFD said the suspected serial arsonist has been terrorizing the neighborhoods for more than a month now.
“We’ve had a total of 26 tree fires that have been reported in those communities since March 1 of this year,” LAFD Capt. Erik Scott said.
During one of the incidents, surveillance cameras captured the suspect walking toward some trees near a home on San Rafael Avenue, near Avenue 37, in Mt. Washington before running away from the scene. Moments later, the trees are seen going up in flames.
The homeowners, in that fire, were alerted to the blaze when their windows started cracking. Firefighters responded quickly and were able to extinguish the flames.
“I don’t know how many feet away it is from my home, but it freaked us out,” the homeowner, Walter Moguel said. “I thought I lost my home basically.”
Damage from the fires has so far been minimal, though residents fear that the situation could escalate if the suspected serial arsonist is not captured.
“It’s really kind of haunted everybody, and people have been staying up late and watching out the windows and chasing the guy when they see him,” Murphy said. “I hope they get this guy real soon because we don’t need anybody like that around here.”
Residents in the area told KTLA that authorities have recovered the suspect’s vehicle, but when asked about it, investigators only said that the situation remains an ongoing investigation.
Friday morning, LAFD officials confirmed that they had arrested 38-year-old man in connection with a tree fire that spread to a building at 1539 W. Cambria St. in Westlake, though “it was unrelated to the recent spree of 26 tree fires, which remains under active investigation,” Capt. Erik Scott said on Twitter.