Arson fires raise awareness before the new year


Parmis Sahrapima, Web Co-Editor-in-Chief
The week leading up to the New Year turned out to be a disappointment for quite a few people as arson fires broke out in the Los Angeles area. With a total of 55 cars set on fire, the firebombs were reported to have taken place at public parking lots and garages starting on the Thursday leading up to the New Year. On January 2, CBSNEWS reported that a person suspected to be the cause for these arson fires was placed under custody after video footages of the man had been seen.
The new year weekend became an exhausting event as extra patrols were sent out in force and firefighters were repeatedly called to put out burning fires. Luckily, only a few minor injuries occurred during these suspicious fires. However, according to NDTV, the outbreak of the arson fires have left trails of debris in Hollywood, West Hollywood, North Hollywood, and the Fairfax area in Los Angeles.
As said by Commander Andrew Smith who was featured on CBSNEWS, detectives “are working on hundreds of clues, interviewing dozens of witnesses, picking up countless pieces of evidence.”
Jan 1 became a day for detectives to study and analyze footage from secret video cameras. This footage revealed a likely candidate for the fires, who has been held in custody since the Monday following the fires.
According to USA Today, Harry Burkhart, whose van had matched the information obtained from witnesses at the crime scenes, remains the most likely suspect for the fires. From the questioning that he underwent, Burkhart revealed that he was from Frankfurt, Germany. After the release of the surveillance video of Burkhart, the police were contacted by federal authorities who revealed Burkhart as a recent immigrant from Germany. This being the case, police grew even more suspicious of Burkhart. “That’s what led to this arrest,” Police Chief Charlie Beck said.
With an estimated $3 million of damage, the arson fires no longer proceeded after Burkhart’s arrest. However, even though police are confident that Burkhart is their most probable suspect, “we have a long way to go,” Beck said. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also said at a conference that Burkhart “will face additional charges” as the police investigations continue.
With many of these cars being reported as cars belonging to students, the event has come to affect teenagers as well. Even though events such as arson fires happen rarely, they can happen, and they can either affect you directly, or a close relative or friend. For those who did not get involved in the arson fires of the past week, the event should have permanently raised the awareness of drivers. Simple actions such as looking for any signs of interfering or for any simple objects that have changed locations in your car, locking car doors, keeping garage lights on during the night and reporting any signs of unusual activity can minimize the chances of such incidents in the future.