The charred remains of cars are left in a Los Angeles carport, Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. Twelve more suspected arson fires broke out early Monday in the Los Angeles area, and a "person of interest" was taken into custody for questioning in connection with the dozens of suspicious car fires that have hit the city since last week. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities arrested a man Monday in connection with dozens of suspected arson fires that destroyed parked cars, scorched buildings and rattled much of the nation's second-largest city over the New Year's weekend.
The suspect resembled a "person of interest" captured on surveillance video near a carport. The man, believed to be 20 to 30 years old, had a receding hairline and a shoulder-length ponytail and was seen emerging from an underground parking garage on Hollywood Boulevard where a car fire was reported.
He was stopped early Monday in a van that matched a description given by witnesses.
Police declined to identify the suspect, but said he was to be booked later on arson charges arising from more than 50 blazes that have flared since Friday in Hollywood, neighboring West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.
Firefighters have not responded to any other suspicious fires since the man was detained, Capt. Jamie Moore said.
The blazes caused an estimated $2 million in damage and forced many apartment dwellers from their homes. But there were no serious civilian injuries. One firefighter was hurt, and another person suffered smoke inhalation, Moore said.
One of Saturday's fires occurred at the Hollywood and Highland entertainment complex, a popular tourist destination bordered by the Walk of Fame in a neighborhood that includes Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
Damaged buildings included a former home of Doors singer Jim Morrison in Laurel Canyon.
Most of the fires began in cars. Authorities have not said how they were started. Investigators declined to provide any other immediate details, saying they did not want to jeopardize the case. A news conference was scheduled for Monday evening.
Hundreds of investigators, police officers and firefighters raced to deal with the blazes. Police conducted extra patrols all weekend, and the noise of helicopters and sirens persisted virtually nonstop in Hollywood.
Investigators were still busy Monday mapping out the sequence of the blazes, examining more than 100 clues and interviewing witnesses.
The fires left behind a trail of smoldering debris. 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."
Some other deliberately set fires were reported Thursday in Hollywood, and two people were arrested. But police said Monday that those suspects were not connected with the 53 other blazes.