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Man accused of setting 26 fires in South Pasadena, Pasadena

April 23, 2013|By Joe Piasecki

A South Pasadena man suspected of setting 21 brush or car fires in the city and four more in Pasadena over the last six months was arrested Sunday.

Javier Adolfo Viera, 35, admitted to starting most of the fires, including several in which Viera tossed homemade incendiary devices from a moving vehicle into dry brush along the Arroyo Seco, South Pasadena Police Det. Bill Earley said.

The fires started in November and escalated to include blazes set under parked vehicles and one in the doorway of a local business. No one was reported injured as a result of the alleged arson activity.

South Pasadena and Pasadena authorities had Viera under surveillance on Sunday prior to a car fire in the 6100 block of Oak Hill Avenue in Los Angeles.

“We watched [Viera] fill a bag with dried vegetation and take it in his car. [While on the move] he undertook several counter-surveillance measures, including driving the wrong way on one-way streets and we ended up losing him a few blocks from where the last fire occurred,” Earley said. “While we were searching for [Viera] there was a witness who saw him light the fire under a vehicle.”

South Pasadena officers had previously contacted Viera in the vicinity of a car fire Saturday and recovered his fingerprints from a device used to set an earlier fire, according to police.

Devices used to set brush fires in the Arroyo included heavy objects and flammable materials wrapped tightly in paper.

Their contents “varied from rocks to oranges to pens,” Earley said. “He was still experimenting.”
Viera was being held at Pasadena City Jail on Monday pending the filing of as many as 26 felony arson charges.

Earley said Viera, the father of three young children, told detectives he was struggling with anger issues related to childhood trauma and rekindled by job-related and financial troubles.

“At first, [Viera] denied setting the fires, but later he did admit it and said he felt better afterward,” Earley said.

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