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$3.6 Million Raised to Help Replace Books Lost in Blaze

Two major grants and an array of smaller donations have increased to $3.6 million the amount raised to replace books lost in the Los Angeles Central Library fire, officials announced Thursday.

Meanwhile, Fire Department officials said that the search for the arsonist who set the blaze has turned cold.

Contributions of $500,000 from the Times Mirror Foundation and $250,000 from the Ahmanson Foundation, along with many smaller donations, have helped keep the campaign on target for its goal of raising $10 million by the end of the year, a spokesman for the fund-raising committee appointed by Mayor Tom Bradley said.

However, little progress has been made in the search for the “suspicious-looking” man who was seen by library employees on April 29 inside the second-floor stacking area just before the flames erupted, according to Capt. Tony DiDomenico, Fire Department spokesman.

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Arson investigators determined that the fire was deliberately set, with damage to books and to the historic structure estimated at $20 million.

Two Fire Department investigators and a third from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms continue to work full time and “are aggressively following every lead,” DiDomenico said.

In addition to the Times Mirror and Ahmanson grants, fund-raising officials said other recent contributions include $25,000 from the John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation, $6,000 through K-RTH radio, which ran a separate donation drive, and $35,000 from hundreds of individuals who have sent contributions to Save the Books (P.O. Box 1986, Los Angeles 90071).

“There’s really been an outpouring from throughout Southern California, so it’s not just the major foundations,” said Al Greenstein, spokesman for the fund-raising committee.

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