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LAPD Releases Video Of Person Of Interest In Rash Of Arsons

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) —  Los Angeles police released a surveillance video at a 5:15 p.m. Sunday news conference as they investigate the string of 40 arsons that blistered the Hollywood and North Hollywood areas over three nights at the end of 2011.

A burly man, about 5’8″ to 6’2″, walking with a noticeable limp, is shown walking down Hollywood Boulevard at the time several of the fires were set.

The man, police say, also has dark hair, a receding hairline and a ponytail. The person of interest is described as being in his late 20s or early 30s.

The video release comes as dozens of detectives from the Major Crimes and Robbery-Homicide divisions spent night and day working on the crimes, including analyzing security video camera pictures.

Earlier in the morning, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the agency was asking residents to keep their porch and garage lights on at night and report suspicious activity to help contain the fires.

At the Sunday press conference, officials said as of 8:35 p.m. Saturday night, the arsonist may have caused as many as 43 separate fires.

Edward Lawrence, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, said the man is said to be walking calmly with his hands never leaving his pockets.

The video was shot in Hollywood near Orange.

Authorities at the news conference said their person of interest has been seen at several of the locations where fires were started and there are additional videos that are not being released that makes them interested in locating this person.

Lawrence also reported that the federal government is now actively involved in the investigation. A task force of 30 Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm (ATF) agents are now joining the LAPD and LAFD in the hopes of catching the arsonist or arsonists.

Police Sunday said “at least” two people were responsible for the arsons.

One suspect is in custody, said police. And officer Sara Faden says he is believed to be responsible for at least the first two in the series of arsons.

The suspect was identified as 22-year-old Samuel Arrington of Sun Valley, who was arrested by Los Angeles police near La Brea Avenue and Sunset Boulevard about 1:30 a.m. Thursday for allegedly setting a fire in a garbage can outside a 7-Eleven and trying to ignite a fuel tank on a truck, police said.

Arrington was also suspected in a 1:12 a.m. trash bin fire at 1444 Poinsettia Place and a carport fire at 1434 Fuller Ave., where four vehicles and an apartment were damaged, city firefighters said Thursday.

Arrington, booked on suspicion of attempted arson, was jailed in lieu of $75,000 bail.

A facebook page called Arson Watch LA has also sprung up hoping to create leads.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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