Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


L.A. Arsonist: 24-Year-Old* Man Charged For Setting 53 Fires [UPDATED]

A fire in a carport in North Hollywood, 12/31/11 (Photo by LAFD via Flickr)
Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

UPDATE 6:30 PM: During a pres conference held this evening, authorities revealed the suspect is 24-year-old male named Harry Burkhart. His age was previously misstated as being 55.


At a press conference that got underway shortly after Noon today, the Joint Task Force investigating the rash of arson fires that have been set over the last four days in Los Angeles announced that the "person of interest" has in fact been arrested, but the investigation remains ongoing.

Authorities confirm that the man detained last night, a 24-year-old white male, was questioned and ultimately charged in conjunction with the recent string of 53 arson fires. However, the suspect has not been booked yet, and the Los Angeles Police Department will release information about the suspect once he has been processed.

Support for LAist comes from

Further, the Joint Task Force, which is comprised of the LAPD, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the Los Angeles City Fire Department, and the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, say they are executing multiple search warrants, however they "don't want to jeopardize [the] case," and will not provide details until later today about what they have found or are looking for.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said they have a great deal of evidence they are sorting through in conjunction with the blazes that were set in cars and carports in Hollywood, West Hollywood, and North Hollywood. Los Angeles City Fire Capt. Jaime Moore says the fires have caused an estimated $2 million in damage.

The suspect was taken into custody at around 3 a.m. today in Hollywood; he matched the description of the "person of interest" seen in video released by the LAPD Sunday. He was in a vehicle with British Columbia plates, but is speculated to be a German national, upset about his mother's deportation.

A press conference has been scheduled for 6 p.m. this evening.