Detectives are on the hunt for an arsonist who set several fires this week in North Hollywood.
Detectives released a security video that appears to have captures an image of the elusive arsonist. Investigators had originally described the arsonist they were looking for as a man on a bicycle; however, the new video shows a woman on a bike trying to set a truck on fire.
The security video is alarming, but there was even a second major twist that occurred while CBS2’s reporter Peter Daut was shooting his piece Friday evening.
The woman in question appeared to roll up to the CBS2/KCAL9 news van while Daut and his photographer were editing his piece Friday evening. Daut tried to talk to her and ask her what her reaction was to the developing story, but she seemed anxious and only said, “I’m just trying to get online” and nervously laughed before she quickly rode off down Victory Blvd.
Daut called 911 and the LAPD fire department, but the police haven’t tracked her down yet.
The security footage recorded early Thursday morning shows the woman pull up to a big-rig. Using the items from her bag, she spends several minutes cutting rope and then soaking it in lighter fluid before stuffing it into the gas tank. She is then shown setting the truck on fire.
The flames grow quickly but then begin to die. She continues to circle the truck on her bike watching carefully to see what happens next.
Eventually, she gives up and rides away. But moments later, in the same area, there are flames more than 30 feet high that destroyed several cars and trees.
Fortunately, no one was hurt, but panicked homeowners used garden hoses to try to put the flames out.
Investigators said this was just one of four separate fires deliberately set less than a mile apart Thursday morning in NoHo.
“She wanted to do what she does, and she had all the equipment,” said the owner of A-1 Home Improvement on Victory Boulevard.
He did not want to show his face but believes the woman caught on his security cameras also tried to set his dumpster on fire a month ago.
He’s grateful his neighbor’s truck only had minor burns but shudders to think what could have happened. “She wanted to see she did something destructive, and she could say ‘yeah I did this.’ It could have been worse,” he said.
And since she’s still on the loose, he’s terrified she might strike again. “She’s going to do something worse than what she’s already done. Stop causing mayhem,” he said.