A 38-year-old man suspected of setting at least two fires and possibly as many as five in the Panorama City area was arrested Wednesday.
Hugo Torres was taken into custody by Los Angeles Fire Department investigators in front of his residence after being questioned by authorities about the burns.
Authorities said five fires, which burned near the Panorama City area, were reported in a 40-minute period beginning about 3:30 a.m. Dec. 19 at two church buildings, on a utility pole, a vehicle and rubbish.
One fire outside the El Redentor Spanish Lutheran Church at 14445 Terra Bella St. spread into a classroom on the church campus and burned for 20 minutes before being extinguished by firefighters.
After analyzing the burn patterns and interviewing witnesses, members of the LAFD’s Arson and Counter Terrorism Section determined the fires were suspicious, said Margaret Stewart of LAFD.
The investigation, which included searching for surveillance video and interviewing more witnesses, led authorities to Torres, who was detained and questioned outside his home Wednesday.
Information gleaned from authorities then “linked the suspect to two of the fires,” Stewart said.
Authorities were not releasing details on which of the five fires Torres is linked to, Stewart said.
Torres was booked into jail on suspicion of arson about 2 p.m., where he is being held without bail, records show.
The investigation into the fires in ongoing, Stewart said.