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Homeless man tries to flee from Burbank police after suspicious fire near freeway reported

A local homeless man may have been responsible for a quarter-acre brush fire near the Burbank Boulevard overpass near downtown Burbank Wednesday evening, according to police.

Edwin Matos was arrested on suspicion of arson by the Burbank Police Department after authorities received reports of a fire near Burbank Boulevard and Front Street around 5:30 p.m. The fire’s quick spread soon led to the temporary closures of the overpass and the off- and on-ramps for the Golden State (5) Freeway.

Sgt. Derek Green, a spokesman for the department, said a witness told police he saw a man start the blaze and run down a set of railroad tracks below the overpass.

Officers found a man matching the witness’s description and tried to stop him, but he subsequently fled, according to Green. A foot chase ensued and police were soon able to catch up to the man, who then fought back against officers.

A dog belonging to the man bit an officer on his arm and leg during the tussle. The man was eventually taken into custody and was identified as Matos.

His dog, a Chihuahua mix named Rico, was placed into a 10-day quarantine by animal control for rabies monitoring.

Green said the 55-year-old man was found in possession of several lighters and matches; he also made statements to police suggesting he had set the fire.

However, police do not have a motive as to why the fire was started.

The blaze was eventually extinguished by the Burbank Fire Department, with minimal damage to nearby guardrails, street lights and traffic signals.

In addition to arson, Matos was also arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and possessing a switchblade knife. He is currently being held on $141,000 bail.

andy.nguyen@latimes.com

Twitter: @Andy_Truc

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