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LOS ANGELES | A German man was charged Tuesday with setting nearly 50 fires, mostly to parked cars, over the New Year’s weekend that terrorized Los Angeles, authorities said.

A criminal complaint against Harry Burkhart, 24, was amended to include a total of 100 arson-related counts involving 49 fires in Hollywood, West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. If convicted, he faces at least 80 years in state prison.

The rash of fires left residents on edge between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2 as parked cars were torched during the night. Some of the fires spread to carports and nearby buildings, including a former home of ‘60s Doors rocker Jim Morrison. Another one of the blazes broke out at the Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex, a popular tourist destination bordered by the Walk of Fame.

The complaint said the arson was caused by the use of a device designed to accelerate the fire. Court documents revealed an incendiary device was placed under the engine area of cars.

There were no serious injuries or deaths as a result of the fires, but damages were estimated to be more than $3 million.


Oldest federal judge dies at age 104

WICHITA | U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown, the nation’s oldest sitting federal judge in history, has died at age 104.

Judge Brown died Monday night at the Wichita assisted living center where he lived, his law clerk, Nanette Turner Kalcik, said Tuesday.

During his long tenure, the senior judge in Wichita repeatedly tried to explain why he had not yet fully retired from the federal bench.

“As a federal judge, I was appointed for life or good behavior, whichever I lose first,” Judge Brown quipped in a 2011 interview with the Associated Press. How did he plan to leave the post? “Feet first,” Judge Brown said.

He came to work at the federal courthouse every day until about a month ago when his health deteriorated, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten said. Judge Brown then had his law clerks bring work to the hospital and later to the assisted living center while he recuperated. His law clerks were with him all waking hours during the past few weeks.

Judge Brown was appointed as a federal district judge in 1962 by President Kennedy.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports