Public's Help Sought to Find Sylmar Arsonist, Apparently Targeting Trees

After more than a dozen fires have blazed in Sylmar, authorities believe they are the work of an arsonist

By Christina Cocca and Whit Johnson
|  Friday, Feb 22, 2013  |  Updated 9:52 PM PDT
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Investigators from the Los Angeles Fire Department are seeking the public's help in identifying the person or people responsible for igniting Cypress trees at more than a dozen locations in Sylmar. LAFD investigator David Liske believes it is the work of an arsonist:

Whit Johnson

Investigators from the Los Angeles Fire Department are seeking the public's help in identifying the person or people responsible for igniting Cypress trees at more than a dozen locations in Sylmar. LAFD investigator David Liske believes it is the work of an arsonist: "It might be kids. It could be an adult." Whit Johnson reports from Sylmar for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Feb. 22, 2013.

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One week after a frightening blaze decimated a tree in front of a Sylmar family’s home, authorities are asking for the public’s help in finding a potential arsonist who they believe has set a series of fires in the neighborhood.

More than a dozen fires have blazed in Sylmar since Nov. 4, 2012, and the fires share one thing in common: Italian cypress trees.

"'It’s an evergreen tree. They’re tall; they burn rather spectacularly," David Liske, senior arson investigator for the Los Angeles Fire Department, said. "They’re easily ignited."

No injuries have been reported from the fires, according to the department.

"It might be kids; it could be an adult. We really don’t know who we’re dealing with at this point," Liske said. "It’s dangerous simply because it’s fire."

Miranda Aguilar and her family were sent running for safety Feb. 15, when a cypress tree caught fire in their front yard (pictured below) in the 12000 block of Bradley Avenue.

"I opened my blinds and it was just orange," Aguilar said. "It felt like the heat was just rushing, the open flame to your face and your whole body."

 

Investigators said they have few leads to go on, but the trend of the specific tree type is enough for them to believe someone is starting the fires on purpose.

"It terrifies me," Aguilar said. "If they did it to me, they’re going to do it to somebody else."

The most recent Sylmar tree fire occurred Feb. 18, according to the department.

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