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Man Held in Christmas Tree Arson

January 05, 2006|Jill Leovy | Times Staff Writer

A man who Glendale police say burned down the city Christmas tree in retaliation for a parking ticket has been booked on suspicion of arson.

Bruce Morrison, 52, was arrested at his Glendale home Wednesday after an investigation tied him to the Dec. 30 fire that reduced the city's official tree to charcoal, said Glendale Sgt. Tom Lorenz. Police also seized a lighter and gasoline container that they believe Morrison used to commit the arson.

"He is definitely the Grinch," Lorenz said. "Obviously this guy was not in the Christmas spirit."

The search for the Christmas-tree arsonist began Dec. 30 when Glendale dispatchers, whose office window overlooks City Hall, noticed a glow emanating from City Hall Plaza at about 9:45 p.m.

Firefighters arrived to find the city's 30-foot Christmas tree burned to the ground.

A witness described seeing a gray-haired man leaving the scene in a blue pickup shortly before the fire started, Lorenz said.

When the description of the vehicle was broadcast on the city's emergency frequency, a parking enforcement officer recognized it as matching a truck the officer had recently ticketed. That led investigators to Morrison, the owner of the pickup, who was later identified by witnesses.

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