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L.A. Arsonist

Person of Interest Detained

1/2/2012 9:20 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

0102_arson_video_big_ex_tmzLASD officers swarmed and handcuffed what they described as a "person of interest" in the Los Angeles arsonist spree that has left thousands of residents scared out of their wits for days.

Fire officials say "it is too early to speculate" if this is the person responsible for the fires.

Police have already released surveillance video showing the alleged suspect -- a ponytailed Steven Seagal lookalike (below). As you can see in our video ... the man in custody sports a ponytail



Cops previously said 39 fires could be linked to the recent rash of arsons ... and another 11 were reportedly set last night.

It's not 100% clear from the footage -- but several witnesses confirm what appears to be a creepy smile on the man's face as he sat in the back of the squad car (below).

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6:19 PM PT: The man has been identified as 24-year-old Harry Burkhart, a Hollywood resident. During a news conference moments ago, Mayor Villaraigosa said Burkhart is currently being held without bail.

According to Villaraigosa, the arson fires that ravaged Hollywood the last 4 days -- over 50 in total -- have caused over $3 million in damage.

L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca said, "The serial arsonist, I believe, has been caught" -- but LAPD Chief Charlie Beck pointed out ... it's still unclear if the arson fires were a one-man operation.

12:10 PM PT
: Police say the man has been arrested and is currently being booked.

9:32 AM PT: Riding in an equestrian unit this morning at the Rose Parade, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said, "We are we are very confident we found our man."

8:13 AM PT: Police say fire-starting materials were found in the man's van, which displayed Canadian license plates. According to reports, the materials include charcoal.

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8:00 AM PT: There are reports the man may be a German national, who is angry that his mother is being deported from the US. An immigration agent helped identify him.

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