Harry Burkhart, LA arson suspect, arrested in connection with more than 50 fires


A map displayed at a press conference shows the locations of dozens of arson fires that were set over the weekend, on Jan. 2, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.


David McNew

Harry Burkhart, a 24-year-old German national living in Los Angeles, has been arrested on suspicion of starting more than 50 fires across the city in the past week, the LA Times reported.

He is currently being held in an LA county jail without bail and no suspicious fires have been reported since his arrest, police said.

More from GlobalPost: Man detained in connection with Los Angeles arson attacks

Police announced yesterday they had detained a "person of interest," but did not release details of his identity. However, at a press conference last night, LAPD officers confirmed that the man in custody had been formally arrested as the prime suspect in the city's worst arson attacks in recent history.

Burkhart was identified after federal officials recognized him as the man captured on surveillance camera footage emerging from a Hollywood parking lot where a car fire was started, law enforcement sources told the Times.

His mother is said to be facing deportation, and Burkhart had recently attended an immigration hearing with her at which he broke into a furious anti-American tirade, according to police. An official who witnessed the outburst then saw the surveillance tape pictures and tipped off the authorities.

Burkhart was detained early yesterday morning near the scene of another string of suspicious fires. Fire starter sticks were found in his vehicle.

LA Police Chief Charlie Beck told the Times:

"I feel very good that we've got the right guy. He had the right stuff in his van and I am confident in the arrest."

Officers nonetheless stressed that the investigation was ongoing and they had not ruled out the possibility that another person could have been involved, CBS News reported. Residents have been told to maintain their vigilance and keep carport lights on.

An estimated $3 million of damage has been caused by 53 suspicious fires in Hollywood, West Hollywood and San Fernando Valley since Dec. 30.

More from GlobalPost: String of arsons in Los Angeles continues