LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A male suspect has been arrested by authorities in connection to rash of fires set across LA and the San Fernando Valley, according to authorities.
Harry Burkhart, 24, was arrested around 3 a.m. Monday following a traffic stop on Sunset Boulevard near Fairfax Avenue in West Hollywood, officials said at a news conference Monday.
Burkhart was driving a dark Dodge minivan with British Columbia license plates that matched the description of a vehicle possibly associated with the fires, police said.
“I didn’t see him up close . . . but it was definitely a male figure. There were other people who got up closer and took photos and stated how he was actually smiling at the cameras. That was just a very eerie feeling,” Sylvia de la Sancha told CBS2’s Louisa Hodge.
Authorities say “fire starting materials” were found in the minivan which police processed as evidence.
“I feel very good that we’ve got the right guy,” Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said.”(The suspect) had the right stuff in his van, and we are very confident we found our man.”
Sources say Burkhart is of German descent and his mother may have been deported last week.
A total of 53 fires were set in the Los Angeles area from Dec. 30 through Jan. 2, according to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Officials estimate property damage to vehicles and structures to be about $2 million.
Authorities said the suspect has been seen at several of the locations where fires were started, including on a video that was released by police Sunday night.