NORTH HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) — Detectives remained on the hunt for a suspected arsonist they believe has been striking the North Hollywood area.
And on Friday, CBS2’s Peter Daut reported on a major twist in the case.
Detectives released never-before-seen security video that appears to have captured an image of the elusive arsonist.
It’s a story that is Only On 2.
Officials said the suspect is accused of setting several fires this week in North Hollywood. Investigators initially described the suspect as a man on a bicycle.
But now, the twist: they may need to start looking for a woman as new video shows the culprit trying to set a truck on fire.
The security video is alarming. Also alarming, the woman in question appeared to roll up on a CBS2/KCAL9 news van while Daut was shooting this piece Friday evening.
Early Thursday morning, a person matching the description of the woman who rolled up on the news van, appeared to pull up to a big-rig. Using items from her bag, she spent several minutes cutting rope and then soaking it in lighter fluid before stuffing it into the gas tank.
She was then seen setting the truck on fire.
The flames grew quickly but then began to die.
She continued to circle the truck on her bike watching carefully to see what would happen next.
Eventually, she gave up and rode away. But moments later, in the same area, flames of more than 30-feet high erupted and destroyed several cars and trees.
Fortunately, no one was hurt.
Panicked homeowners used garden hoses to try to put the flames out.
Investigators said that fire was just one of four deliberately set less than a mile apart Thursday morning in North Hollywood.
“She wanted to do what she does and she had all of the equipment,” said the owner of A-1 Home Improvement on Victory Boulevard.
He did not want to show his face but believes the woman caught on his security cameras also tried to set his dumpster on fire a month ago.
He’s grateful his neighbor’s truck only had minor burns but shudders to think of what could have happened.
“She wanted to see that she did something destructive, and she could say ‘Yeah, I did this.’ It could have been worse,” he said.
And since she’s still on the loose, he’s terrified she might strike again.
“She’s going to do something worse than what she’s already done. Stop causing mayhem!” he said.
Friday evening, while editing his report, a woman who fit the description of the suspected arsonist rolled by.
When Daut tried to talk to her, she said “I’m just trying to get online (on my phone).” She then peddled away down Victory Boulevard.
Daut called 911 and police are actively searching for the woman. He also called the Los Angeles City Fire Department who also plan on reviewing the video.