Arsonist Still on Loose in Venice Beach

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The suspects that were detained in the recent Venice Beach fires have been released, so keep your eyes peeled for suspicious activity. Call the LAFD Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section office directly at 213-485-6095 whenever you have information related to the crime or threat of arson. Those who need to report an active fire, firesetter or imminent danger to life or property should of course call 9-1-1 immediately.

From Yo! Venice! reader Dave F:

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On Tuesday, May 11, at 3 am I was awakened in my upstairs apartment on Flower Ave at 7th Ave in Venice, CA by explosions and bright orange light. I was totally asleep, anticipating a 6 am alarm clock to go to work. Instead, I was startled awake by what sounded like muffled gunfire and a crazy flickering effect from outside my window filling my bedroom with other worldly light.

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I ran to my kitchen window and beheld the three cars in my apartment driveway all on fire. Surreal. Panic sets in, …find my cell phone, glasses, and call 911. It all took place in a confused jumble, my heart racing, unsure of just what step and tactic to take. It was eerily quiet except for the crackle of the fires and the tires and car glass blowing out. I could clearly hear my heart furiously beating.

I went out with my car keys to see just what was happening. The fire was getting bigger and bigger. It was most assuredly growing and getting hungrier. It was dire. Neighbors were gathering, shocked and alert. Rousing anyone in harm’s way.

I took iPhone photos and video of the three cars on fire. It helped me deal with the fact that I was going to lose a really favorite car of mine, 2001 Saab Aero Wagon.

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LAFD arrived in minutes. No sirens were heard as it was a neighborhood asleep for the most part but the truck’s rumble and urgency was felt. Three trucks. Took about 5 or 6 minutes from my call which I was told that they already had been notified and that the Venice Station LAFD was on the way. Quickly they doused the flames with less than a minute to spare before the surrounding structures were ablaze from the trees that carried the fire -like a fuse – to my apartment, the building and my neighbors house. Magnificent work by dedicated professionals. Thanks again to the Chief, the Deputy Chief, The Captain and all of the firefighters for being so amazing in their choreographed firefighting ballet.

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I am a Cinematographer with decades of experience of filming this sort of “staged” fire and adrenaline pumping scene but admittedly, I was really panicked when it now was my car, my place and me that were threatened. I was glad to be able to document this experience, even though the officers from LAPD were quite sure I was a crazy person and threatened to “handcuff me and put me in their police cruiser, for my own safety” if I didn’t stop and stay way back. The LAFD Arson team investigation continues to this day. I sent a CD full of my photos and iPhone movies to assist the LAFD Arson investigators.

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I was also really impressed with the manner of professionalism and protocol that they followed in their onsite investigation and interviewing. No word yet on the cause of this seemingly random act of vicious destruction. I noticed the posters asking for info on the telephone poles in the neighborhood. This is a great start. Hopefully someone with info will come forth and help apprehend this malicious individual before someone gets killed. Thanks to the folks at Yo Venice for letting me share this story. Let’s all look out and cover our backs, Yo!

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The dawn light view. Fire is believed to have started in middle car mid-right side. My roommate’s VW Passat wagon was under a car cover and stored for three weeks while he worked out of town. The middle car, Toyota 4Runner, belonged to a neighbor gal, a young single mom. Neither she nor my roommate had comprehensive auto insurance to cover fire and are suffering a huge loss. Ouch.

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