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New year sees more fires hit LA

Four more car fires broke out in the Los Angeles area on New Year's Eve, leaving authorities to probe any links to a series of arson blazes that have ruined dozens of cars and spread to some buildings in recent days.

In a contrast to the typical revelry of the night, fire engines were stationed in neighbourhoods, police patrolled the city, switchboards took hotline calls and thousands of dollars in rewards were offered.

Firefighters quickly put out a car fire at about 6pm in Hollywood that "fits the profile of concern" authorities have been following for the arsons, fire department spokesman Brian Humphrey said. The flames did not spread beyond the car and no one was injured. Mr Humphrey could not immediately say how the fire started.

Later at the Hollywood and Highland complex, a popular destination for revellers, firefighters responded to a small car fire in a car park that was out by the time they arrived, Mr Humphrey said. He said the fire is under investigation, but could not say whether it is thought to be arson or tied to the others.

Shortly before 9pm, firefighters made quick work of two car fires in a carport in West Hollywood. Fire dispatch supervisor Robert Diaz says the fires were put out before they could spread. There was no word on whether they were linked to the arson fires.

But the fires resembled more than a dozen set before dawn on Saturday, mostly in North Hollywood, and nearly two dozen fires set in and around Hollywood a day earlier.

Though some of the fires spread and damaged homes and apartments, none have brought injuries. One of the damaged homes in Laurel Canyon was once occupied by the late Jim Morrison, lead singer of the rock group The Doors.

Some residents were on edge as authorities ramped up efforts to catch the culprit or culprits on a night when police and fire resources are always stretched thin as drunken new year's revellers hit the town.

Firefighters were stationed around the city to respond to emergencies, while authorities set up a hotline and pored through tips. Authorities were also interviewing witnesses, looking at video footage for clues and have announced at least 35,000 US dollars (£22,500) in rewards for information leading to a conviction. Authorities said they are investigating a total of 39 suspicious fires.

While few clues have emerged, officials have speculated that it is plausible that one person in a car, on a motorcycle or on a bike could have set all the fires, considering the limited area the blazes broke out in, but know they could be looking for multiple suspects. Police said they are looking for a man who was driving a mid-1990s Lexus sedan, but offered no further description or details.


From Belfast Telegraph