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L.A. City Council approves $25,000 reward in Sylmar arsons

April 03, 2013|By Joseph Serna

Authorities are worried that an arsonist who has set more than a dozen trees in Sylmar ablaze may be looking to up the ante, a Los Angeles Fire Department official said Wednesday.

In response, the Los Angeles City Council also agreed to up the ante. A motion increasing the reward from $10,000 to $25,000 for the arsonist's capture and conviction was unanimously approved Wednesday, thanks to some nudging from the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The reward will be in place for six months.

“We don’t want this to go from lighting off trees to getting more comfortable to lighting more than trees,” said Battalion Chief Armando Hogan.

Since Nov. 14, more than 50 Italian cypress trees in a Sylmar neighborhood have burned in the middle of the night, most set alight sometime between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.

All the fires have been reported in about a two-mile radius north of where the 5 and 405 freeways converge. The most recent incidents were March 17.

One blaze Jan. 14 burned 26 trees, while another Dec. 17 scorched 10 cypress trees. Two vehicles and a backyard fence also have been burned, Hogan said.

“While we are thankful that no one has been injured to date, this arsonist has no thought for human life or property, and is not going to stop setting these dangerous and destructive fires unless forced to,” said Councilman Richard Alarcon, who suggested the increased bounty.

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Joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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