- Associated Press - Monday, January 2, 2012

LOS ANGELES — Authorities arrested a man Monday in connection with dozens of suspected arson fires that destroyed parked cars, scorched buildings and rattled Los Angeles residents over the New Year’s weekend.

Police declined to identify the man, but said he was to be booked later on arson charges arising from 53 fires that have flared since Friday in Hollywood, neighboring West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.

The suspect resembled a “person of interest” captured on videotape Saturday near a carport. He was stopped early Monday in a van that matched a description given by witnesses.

Firefighters have not been called to any other suspicious fires since the man was detained, Capt. Jamie Moore said.

The blazes caused an estimated $2 million in damage, but there were no serious civilian injuries. One firefighter was hurt, and another person suffered smoke inhalation, Moore said.

Authorities declined to provide other details, saying they did not want to jeopardize the case.

Hundreds of investigators, police officers and firefighters raced to deal with the rash of fires over the holiday weekend. Police were kept on overtime, and the noise of helicopters and sirens persisted virtually nonstop in Hollywood.

Investigators were still busy mapping out the sequence of the blazes, examining more than 100 clues and interviewing witnesses.

The fires left a trail of smoldering debris in Hollywood, West Hollywood, North Hollywood and the Fairfax district of Los Angeles.

Police urged residents to check their cars for any signs of tampering and to take simple precautions such as locking vehicles, keeping garage and carport lights on at night and reporting suspicious activity.

Despite the arrest, authorities continued to urge vigilance.

“We’re not resting, and we’re not stopping” the extra patrols, police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said. “If you have lights in your carport area, keep them on tonight.”

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