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Investigators Arrest Suspect in Arson Fires : Law enforcement: The man was followed after his release from a hospital's psychiatric observation unit.

August 15, 1991|AMY LOUISE KAZMIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles Fire Department arson investigators last week arrested a man who they suspect may be responsible for a string of 11 arson fires that caused a total of $233,000 in damage in the Silver Lake and Los Feliz areas.

Algimantas Endrekus, 56, was arrested Aug. 7 after allegedly setting a fence on fire in front of arson investigators who had tailed him since his release from psychiatric custody the day before, Capt. Stephen Ruda said.

Endrekus pleaded not guilty Friday to one felony count of attempted arson; a preliminary hearing is scheduled Wednesday.

He was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.

The day before his arrest last week, Endrekus was released from the psychiatric observation unit at County-USC Medical Center, where he had spent two weeks after he was arrested as a suspect in a July 24 blaze that damaged a carport on Parkman Avenue.

Arson investigators also suspected that he was responsible for a fire that caused $16,000 in damage to a house in the same neighborhood three days earlier, and a string of smaller trash and rubbish fires in the area.

Ruda said that all the fires were within a few blocks of Endrekus' home in the 2900 block of St. George Street in Silver Lake and that the fires had begun shortly after he moved to the neighborhood at the end of June.

But Deputy Dist. Atty. Norman Shapiro said there was not enough evidence to prove that Endrekus was responsible for the July 24 blaze or any other fires in the neighborhood, although he had been seen at several of them.

The district attorney's office declined to file charges, and Endrekus was released from custody Aug. 6.

After Endrekus' release, Shapiro said, arson investigators followed him to a bar and later watched as he ignited several cardboard boxes near a fence in Silver Lake.

He was arrested "with the smoking match in his hand," Ruda said.

Arson investigators also suspect that Endrekus set a string of fires in the Lafayette Park area, where he lived before moving to Silver Lake, Ruda said.

In early June, the Lafayette Park area was hit by a string of rubbish fires--including one that caused $36,000 in damage--but the neighborhood has not had any problems since the end of June, when Endrekus moved away, Ruda said.

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