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Authorities Link Series of Florist Shop Blazes

February 16, 1986|RENATE ROBEY | Times Staff Writer

An arsonist may be responsible for a series of fires at San Fernando Valley flower shops, including two blazes last week, Los Angeles city fire officials said Saturday.

The most recent fires were at 4:30 a.m. Thursday at The Greenhouse, 2205 W. Olive St., Burbank, and Monday at the Plant and Flower Mart, 5911 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys. The Burbank fire caused more than $50,000 in damage. The other caused an estimated $35,000 in damage, Division Commander John Sampson said.

Details were sketchy, but officials said several fires appear connected.

Set in Darkness

All the fires occurred in the early morning and were started with materials commonly found in flower shops, such as wrapping paper, Sampson said.

Fire officials suspect that the person responsible may be in the florist industry, possibly a disgruntled ex-employee of a flower shop or someone with a grudge against florists.

"There has to be a reason. You have to either hate them or have some other reason to cause them grief," Sampson said. "This type of fire is harassment, aimed at putting the person out of business or destroying their stock."

Most of the fires have occurred near midnight, about the time the downtown Flower Mart opens, Sampson said. The Flower Mart is the main supplier to local flower shops, he added, noting that an arsonist may be doing floral business just before or after setting the fires.

Areas Staked Out

Arson investigators have staked out some areas, including Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood and Studio City, and have sent a letter to local florists asking them for any information. The letter also advises florists to keep shop floors clear of flammable materials.

Roger Palmer, a florist who works at a shop about 1 1/2 miles from the Sepulveda Boulevard shop that burned last week, said most florists are concerned about the danger.

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