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35 Southern California fires rock cities

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35 Southern California fires rock cities

Post  Panda on Sun 1 Jan - 8:45

35 Southern California fires rock cities



By the CNN Wire Staff
January 1, 2012 -- Updated 0223 GMT (1023 HKT)






Officials
are offering a $60,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in a
Friday morning arson spree in the Hollywood area.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • NEW: Arson a form of "domestic terrorism," West Hollywood mayor says
  • Officials: The fires were started within a 2-square mile area within a 5-hour span
  • County supervisor: "We want to get these SOBs before they hurt somebody"
  • Official: The fires cause more than $350,000 in property damage





Los Angeles (CNN) -- A joint task force Saturday was
investigating a string of 35 fires across several Southern California
communities, and one mayor called them a "new form of domestic
terrorism."

Despite a $60,000 reward, authorities had not made an arrest by Saturday afternoon.

The 21 initial fires, set in rapid succession in the Hollywood area,
prompted authorities in California to post the reward in what they say
is one of the worst arson sprees in recent memory.

The fires were set within a span of about five hours early Friday
morning, and in nearly every case they were started on parked cars,
officials said. Some of the fires spread to nearby buildings.

Among the homes damaged was one that was once occupied by Doors
frontman Jim Morrison. The street where the house sits -- Rothdell Trail
-- was the inspiration for the Doors song, "Love Street."

Seventeen fires were set in Hollywood; four others in West Hollywood -- all of them within a 2-square mile area.

The fire department's Capt. Jaime Moore told CNN Saturday an
additional 14 fires were reported. Investigators will determine whether
they are arson and related to the other fires.

"This area of concern involves vehicle fires and fires involving
vehicles in structures," the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a
statement. "Ten of these fires were located in the North Hollywood
(Burbank) area and the last three were located in the Fairfax district
(southwest of Hollywood). The Los Angeles County Fire Department has
reported one fire meeting this criteria in the Lennox area."

West Hollywood Mayor John J. Duran told CNN the arsonists "are using
cars as an incendiary device to set buildings on fire." Many of the
buildings are close to each other and house senior citizens who are not
mobile, he said.

"We have a full-force deployment out tonight," Duran said.

"When you have millions of people living with millions of cars in
these very dense neighborhoods, this is becoming a new form of domestic
terrorism that really has got our community in a very bad spot."

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told reporters Friday afternoon
that authorities are "dead serious about trying to apprehend the
individual or individuals who are responsible" for the arson fires.

"We want to get these SOBs before they hurt somebody," he said.

Fire officials said they were relieved no one was hurt, although a firefighter suffered a non-life-threatening injury.

"If you're setting something alight when people are going to bed, you
obviously don't expect them to wake up," resident Mark Todd told CNN
affiliate KTLA. "It sort of goes past arson to attempted murder."

The Hollywood area is home to about 20,000 people per square mile, said Los Angeles fire spokesman Erik Scott.

He also said the fires caused $350,000 in property damage -- a "conservative estimate."

Authorities deployed extra police officers after sundown. The Los
Angeles Fire Department's arson unit called in additional investigators
to review surveillance footage and pore through the ashes.

"While our police officers and our fire departments are working on
high alert in coming days, everyone must remain vigilant," said Los
Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

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Re: 35 Southern California fires rock cities

Post  Panda on Thu 5 Jan - 5:50

German Man Charged With LA New Year Arsons



















Scores of cars were thought to have been set alight in the attacks





4:41am UK, Thursday January 05, 2012





A German man has been charged with 37 counts of arson linked to a series of fires across Los Angeles over the New Year.


Harry Burkhart, 24, was charged with 28 counts of arson of property
and nine counts of arson of an inhabited structure, said Los Angeles
County District Attorney Steve Cooley.


"The complaint also alleges that the arson was caused by use of a device designed to accelerate the fire," Cooley said.


"If found true, the allegation could mean additional custody time for the defendant."


Burkhart, a German citizen, is being held under suicide watch at the Los Angeles County Jail.


In a brief court appearance he spoke only to confirm that he
understood the charges against him. He will appear again later this
month.


State prosecutors in Germany had previously said Burkhart was
suspected of starting a fire that burned down his home in the city of
Neukirchen.












Dozens of cars were set alight during the spate of attacks





"We are investigating against this 24-year-old man because of a fire
in the Schwalm-Eder district," German state prosecutor Annemarie Wied
said.


"He is accused of serious arson and suspected fraud."


Scores of cars around the West Hollywood area were thought to have been set alight in the attacks.


Some of the fires spread to nearby properties and damaged homes and
apartments, although no one was killed or injured in the incidents.


Among the properties damaged in the blazes was the former home of Doors frontman Jim Morrison.


Burkhart's 53-year-old mother, Dorothee Burkhart, was arrested last
week in the Los Angeles area on a provisional warrant issued by German
authorities and is facing extradition proceedings.

Ms Burkhart, who has been living in a Los Angeles apartment with her
son, faces multiple charges of fraud and embezzlement in Germany,
according to court documents.


She is accused of failing to pay a surgeon for breast augmentation as
well as failing to return security deposits on rental properties she
leased and accepting fees and deposits on apartment units she did not
own, the court documents show.


The elder Burkhart was apparently unaware that her son had been
arrested and asked a judge if the "German Nazis" were responsible for
him disappearing.


A website for an erotic massage service based in Los Angeles is
registered to a Dorothee Burkhart who shares the same address as Harry
Burkhart. The site advertises topless but non-sexual sessions by
appointment only.


Officials had offered a reward of $60,000 (£38,600) for information
leading to the arrest of those responsible for the arson attacks.









==================

It is estimated that $3 million damage has been done

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