A Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter is shown at a fire in West Hollywood, Calif., on Friday Dec.30, 2011. On Jan. 2, a man was arrested in connection with the recent arson spree in California. Several published reports quoted unidentified law enforcement authorities as saying the suspect, identified as a German national, appears to have been angry at the U.S. government over the deportation of his mother.AP
The pending deportation of his mother may have driven a man arrested Monday in connection with a series of car arson fires around Hollywood in recent days, according to several published reports that quoted law enforcement authorities.
The man, whom authorities had not identified by name as of early evening Monday, is described as a German national who reportedly said "I hate America," after being detained by police.
ABC News reported that the suspect's mother had a deportation hearing that took place about a week and a half ago in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times also quoted unidentified police authorities as citing a "dispute with federal immigration officials" as a possible factor in the suspect's alleged arson spree.
Federal authorities reportedly helped California police investigating the case to look at the man as a potential "person of interest," according to the Los Angeles Times. The man drove a vehicle that had Canadian license plates, reports say.
Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, interviewed at the Rose Parade by City News Service, said: "I feel very good that we've got the right guy. [The suspect] had the right stuff in his van, and we are very confident we found our man.''
The suspected arson fires destroyed parked cars, scorched buildings and rattled Los Angeles residents over the New Year's weekend.
Police declined to identify the man, but said early Monday that they planned to book him later in the day on arson charges arising from 53 fires that have flared since Friday in Hollywood, neighboring West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.
The suspect resembled a "person of interest" captured on videotape Saturday near a carport. He was stopped early Monday in a van that matched a description given by witnesses.
Firefighters have not responded to any other suspicious fires since the man was detained, Capt. Jamie Moore said.
The blazes caused an estimated $2 million in damage, but there were no serious civilian injuries. One firefighter was hurt, and another person suffered smoke inhalation, Moore said.
Authorities declined to provide other details, saying they did not want to jeopardize the case.
Hundreds of investigators, police officers and firefighters raced to deal with the rash of fires over the holiday weekend. Police were kept on overtime, and the noise of helicopters and sirens persisted virtually nonstop in Hollywood.
Investigators were still busy mapping out the sequence of the blazes, examining more than 100 clues and interviewing witnesses.
The fires left a trail of smoldering debris in Hollywood, West Hollywood, North Hollywood and the Fairfax district of Los Angeles.
Police urged residents to check their cars for any signs of tampering and to take simple precautions such as locking vehicles, keeping garage and carport lights on at night and reporting suspicious activity.
Despite the arrest, authorities continued to urge vigilance.
"We're not resting, and we're not stopping" the extra patrols, police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said. "If you have lights in your carport area, keep them on tonight."
This story contains material from The Associated Press.