LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A "person of interest" was being questioned in connection with as many as 55 arson fires, most started in cars, in a spree that began on Thursday, Los Angeles Fire Department said on Monday.
Early Monday, several fires broke out in cars and structures in Hollywood and the surrounding areas, said an alert posted on the fire department's website.
An unidentified person of interest was detained hours after Los Angeles police released video of a man who they said witnesses and security video footage placed at several locations where the fires started.
"It is too early to speculate if this person is responsible for the spree of arson fires," the LAFD alert said.
The security camera video distributed by police at a news conference showed a white male in his late twenties to early thirties, dressed in black, with receding hair held in a ponytail.
Since the attacks began, a total of 55 "fires of concern" broke out, including 45 in the Los Angeles area, nine in West Hollywood and one in Burbank, the fire department said on its website.
Most of the fires started in cars and some spread to carports and homes.
Police spokesman Cleon Joseph urged residents to be on the lookout for anyone acting suspiciously.
"Keep your lights on, be diligent, watch your surroundings. If you see anything, call 911," Joseph said.
Los Angeles Police Department Commander Andrew Smith said dozens of detectives had worked through the night to gather evidence and sift through clues.
"We've reassigned dozens of detectives," Smith said. "Those detectives are now working together around the clock... We've got hundreds of clues, dozens of witnesses, and countless pieces of evidence," he added.
So far, no one has been seriously hurt, but a firefighter was treated and released for injuries suffered at the site of one blaze over the weekend and another person suffered minor injuries on New Year's Eve.
One of the fires damaged a house in the Hollywood Hills, where The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison was inspired to write the 1968 song "Love Street" about his girlfriend Pam Courson and what was then a hippie hangout.
Fire chiefs declined to say how the blazes were started.
(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Greg McCune)
Corrects attribution in paragraph four to LAFD.
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