Hollywood: More cars set afire in LA, arson suspected
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Several more cars burned in suspected arson attacks in the Los Angeles area early Saturday morning, and authorities investigated if they were connected to nearly two dozen deliberately set blazes a day earlier, police said.
Seven or eight cars burned Saturday in the North Hollywood area, said officer Robert Collier.
He said he didn’t have further details of the blazes, but said arson is suspected and there could be a link to the earlier blazes.
“We believe there might be, but we don’t know for sure,” he said.
Fire officials said the first report came in shortly after midnight, and the most recent about three hours later.
Early Friday morning, fires were reported in nearly two dozen locations in Hollywood and the neighboring city of West Hollywood during a four-hour period before dawn. In nearly every case, the fire started in a parked car.
Flames from torched vehicles ignited some nearby houses early Friday, including one once occupied by Doors frontman Jim Morrison.
But Collier said that although some of Saturday’s blazes are in carports and garages, he didn’t have any reports of damage to buildings.
Police up a command post in the North Hollywood area and have called a tactical alert, allowing them to call in more officers.
No arrests have been made and no injuries reported.
Another car fire was reported around 7 p.m. Friday in an underground garage in Hollywood that fire officials were investigating for possible links to the series of arson blazes. Los Angeles Fire Capt. Jaime Moore said that a connection hasn’t been ruled out.
Arson investigators “consider it to be an incendiary fire similar to the fires from this morning,” he told The Associated Press.
The new fires broke out even as authorities beefed up patrols and urged the public to remain vigilant overnight.
Officials announced at least $35,000 in rewards for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible.
All of the Friday’s fires were in a 2-square mile area and most were in densely populated residential neighborhoods where residents would likely be asleep.
Authorities interviewed witnesses and looked for any video footage that may have captured the person, or people, responsible for the spate of crimes. Investigators from four agencies met for a strategy session, while Los Angeles officials summoned investigators from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Fire officials couldn’t say whether the rash of fires was the work of a copycat. There was a series of other arson fires early Thursday, also in Hollywood. Two people have been arrested and remain in custody for those blazes, officials said.
One of the homes was in Laurel Canyon, where Morrison and his girlfriend once lived, neighbors said. The winding road was the inspiration for the Doors’ hit “Love Street,” and the house was listed for nearly $1.2 million earlier this year, according to real estate website Zillow.com.
Sandy Gendel, who owns a nearby restaurant, said he heard explosions from what he later determined were likely car tires. He saw flames 30 feet high coming from the deck of the former Morrison house and a gutted Mazda Miata.
“It was just like a towering inferno,” Gendel said.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Jaime Moore said it is plausible that one person in a car, on a motorcycle or on a bike could have set all the fires, considering the limited area the blazes broke out in.
Hollywood is served by the Los Angeles city police and fire departments. Adjacent West Hollywood is a separately incorporated city served by the Los Angeles County fire and sheriff’s departments.
Associated Press writers Sue Manning and Greg Risling contributed to this
Flagstaff: Windows shot out in Flag
ERIC BETZ Sun Staff Reporterazdailysun.com | Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2011
“We have to take $2,500 out of our programs now,” said Randi Rolle, the Flagstaff program’s executive director. “Our purpose is to serve youth, not to have them destroy our property.”
Rolle says she doesn’t think Big Brothers Big Sisters was specifically targeted because they don’t even have a sign out front yet. She added that they are looking into surveillance equipment to stop this from happening again.
Sgt. James Jackson of the Flagstaff Police Department says that six windows were reportedly shot at from the beginning of the month until this Wednesday, then another six windows were reported damaged in one night.
The list of damaged buildings includes Cosmic Cycles, Flagstaff High School, an accountant’s building, several physicians’ offices and two buildings belonging to the city of Flagstaff.
Police department officials believe the damages are related because they all involved a BB gun in a similar time frame. A sergeant who supervises the area noticed a pattern while looking at reports on Tuesday and planned to bring it up at the police department’s monthly meeting next week as something the rest of the department should be looking out for, Jackson said.
In light of the Wednesday night shootings, the department now plans to step up their efforts before then.
On Wednesday night, officers were called to Flagstaff High School after it was discovered that four vehicles had been damaged. One truck had a side window broken out and a large light near the auto shop had been shot out.
BBs were found in the area, as well as a Monster energy drink can with BBs inside and some Jack in the Box wrappers. The same items were found at a similar criminal damage incident at Sinagua Middle School.
Jackson is asking that anyone with information into the crimes contact the Flagstaff Police Department.
“It’s just frustrating this time of year,” Rolle said. “People are out destroying property when other people are in their greatest need.”
City and county residents who want to report a crime but wish to remain anonymous may call Silent Witness at 774-6111 or (877) 29-CRIME.
Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Posted in Local on Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:00 am Updated: 11:00 pm.