Los Angeles has their very own carsonist(s), and it's been a tense holiday weekend for residents of Hollywood and West Hollywood as at least 55 cars were "firebombed" by what investigators believe may be Molotov cocktails "perhaps in a container able to penetrate car-window glass." It remains uncertain whether these incidents have all been the work of a single individual, and early this morning police announced that they had detained a person of interest in the case — a man driving a blue minivan with Canadian plates who may or may not be from Germany. They say it's too early to tell whether the man can even be considered a suspect. A string of eleven fires broke out in the span of two hours this morning beginning around 1:30 a.m.

The random nature of the fires has put many Angelenos on edge, parking their cars on the street, away from their homes, if possible, to avoid getting their homes set on fire — an undisclosed number of apartment buildings have been damaged, and people displaced, when car fires were started in ground floor/underground garages. Low-flying helicopters have been sweeping over neighborhoods conducting surveillance, and everyone's now gotten used to the sound of "racing helicopters and sirens" signalling a new blaze. The first fires began after midnight Thursday, and have continued at a steady clip in the wee hours of each morning since, with New Year's Eve seeing the longest marathon of fires. (If you want to keep up in real time, here's a link to the live stream of the LAFD's scanner/dispatcher.)

Police are offering a $60,000 reward for help capturing the culprit, but some L.A. residents don't feel too confident that the arsonist will be easy to catch. SF last saw a carsonist spree back in 2009, and to our knowledge no one was ever nabbed for that — though they did at one point try to pin it on that crazy elderly homeless lady Fafa Chan.

[LA Times]