logo
Featured on 40:     Storm Week     Win a 60" TV!     40 Force: School Drive     Sox Trophies     Weather Discussion    
share on facebook share on twitter
Breaking News
Report: Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Killing 51 People Read more

Firefighters chase arson fires in Hollywood area

A Los Angeles Fire Department engine arrives at a fire in the Laurel Canyon section of Los Angeles on Friday Dec.30,2011. An arsonist torched car after car early Friday, sending firefighters scrambling to put out more than a dozen blazes in Hollywood and neighboring West Hollywood. The fires started shortly after midnight and occurred over a four-hour span before dawn. (AP Photo/Mike Meadows)

A Los Angeles Fire Department engine arrives at a fire in the Laurel Canyon section of Los Angeles on Friday Dec.30,2011. An arsonist torched car after car early Friday, sending firefighters scrambling to put out more than a dozen blazes in Hollywood and neighboring West Hollywood. The fires started shortly after midnight and occurred over a four-hour span before dawn. (AP Photo/Mike Meadows)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An arsonist set numerous vehicle fires early Friday that spread to nearby houses and apartment buildings in Hollywood and neighboring West Hollywood, including a home once occupied by Doors frontman Jim Morrison.

The four-hour onslaught started shortly after midnight and sent firefighters scrambling to douse the flames. In nearly every case, the fire started in a parked car.

Dozens of people were rousted from their homes, power was disrupted in several neighborhoods and Los Angeles police were put on tactical alert in the Hollywood area. One city firefighter was treated and released from a hospital after a fall while battling one blaze. No other injuries have been reported.

“It was a long, tough night,” said Los Angeles County fire Battalion Chief Tom Sullivan.

Arson investigators from the police and sheriff’s departments said there was no suspect description and they were looking for building security videos and witnesses.

“If you see something, say something,” Sullivan told a press conference.

One of the homes damaged by the arson fires was in Laurel Canyon where Morrison and his girlfriend once lived, neighbors said.

Sandy Gendel, who owns a nearby restaurant, said he heard explosions from what he later believed were car tires. He saw flames 30 feet (9 meters) high coming from the deck of the former Morrison house and a gutted Mazda Miata.

“It was just like a towering inferno,” Gendel said.

Jeff Dorman, who lives in the neighborhood, said he and his wife were awakened by noise in the street.

As he and his neighbors watched the firefight, he said they worried about embers floating toward their houses because they are so close together. They also were concerned about a firebug being loose in their neighborhood.

“One spark could have been a huge problem,” Dorman said. “The fire department did a fantastic job.”

Unless authorities catch the arsonist, they are preparing for possibly another round of fires. City Councilman Tom LaBonge said all agencies involved were going to meet for a strategy session.

“These are not trash can fires on street corners. We are just a second away from tragedy,” he said.

LaBonge said the arsonist is targeting underground parking in mid-century type apartments that have no security gates and putting some kind of incendiary device under cars.

All of the fires were in a four square mile (10 square kilometer) area, he said.

It was the second day of arson fires in the area.

Two people were arrested Thursday following a spate of similar car and rubbish fires. Those men remained in custody Friday, officials said.

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 report.

Associated Press

WGGB encourages readers to share their thoughts and engage in healthy dialogue about the issues. Comments containing personal attacks, profanity, offensive language or advertising will be removed. Please use the report comment function for any posts you feel should be reviewed. Thank you.