Authorities across Southern California were beefing up patrols Saturday night, hoping to catch the person or persons responsible for more than 35 fires over the last two days.
Los Angeles police and fire officials were trying to determine whether the fires were the work of one arsonist or several. Some officials believe it would be difficult for one person to have set all the fires but have definitely ruled out a lone arsonist, law enforcement sources told The Times.
On Friday morning, 21 fires were started in a relatively small area around Hollywood and West Hollywood. On Friday night and Saturday morning, 16 more fires were reported. They were similar to the ones in Hollywood but were spread out over a much larger area.
Eight of the fires occurred in North Hollywood, three in the foothill area of the San Fernando Valley, three in the Wilshire Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, one on the Westside and one in Lennox.
Police and L.A. sheriff's officials said they will have added patrols tonight, as have the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Several cities that border Los Angeles were following events with the arson case very carefully, given their proximity to the crime scenes. Santa Monica police officials said they already had many more officers on duty because of the New Year's holiday and that they were alert for possible arson fires within the city limits.
Glendale police spokesman Tom Lorenz said holiday deployment had markedly increased the number of officers on roving patrols.
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: The aftermath of a suspected arson fire in the 1000 block of Genessee Avenue. Credit: Ari Bloomekatz / Los Angeles Times