Recent fires in Glendale

Police have received no leads in their investigation of a number of fires in Glendale after putting out a request to the community to call in with any tips. (Steve Greenberg / Glendale News Press / April 24, 2014)

Days after police pleaded for the public’s help in finding a serial arsonist who has set 17 trash and furniture fires in Glendale, investigators still haven’t received any tips.

The lack of tips is likely due to the fact that many residents didn’t see the fires because they were set either at night or in the early morning, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

“Right now, it’s a who-dunnit, so our options are all open,” he said.

The fires started in January, but have been mostly contained to pieces of furniture and trash left on neighborhood sidewalks and in alleys in south Glendale.

At least that was the case until Saturday, when a mattress fire spread to a nearby carport and caused significant damage.

The fire prompted concerns among police, who fear the next blaze could become deadly.

However, the fires have left no clues as to who is responsible for them.

Police were not able to recover fingerprints or physical evidence from the fires because it was destroyed.

Investigators also looked into previous arson arrests and individuals listed in California Department of Justice’s arson registry, but that search came up empty, Lorenz said.

Police cadets went door-to-door last month and handed out fliers to residents, asking them to report any suspicious activity.

Glendale Crime Stoppers, a local volunteer organization, even offered a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.

“We just need residents to be vigilant and call us,” Lorenz said.

Police have arrested several arsonists over the years, but none was more prolific than John Orr, a former Glendale fire captain and arson investigator.

Between the 1980s and early 1990s, a series of fires that devastated Southern California left investigators stumped because they had no leads in finding the person responsible for them.

Orr might not have been caught if it wasn’t for a fingerprint, which was found on an incendiary device at the scene of a fire that destroyed a home-center store in South Pasadena in 1984 and killed four people, including a 2-year-old boy.

The fingerprint was eventually matched to Orr, who was then the subject of a surveillance investigation.

At the time, Orr had penned a manuscript, which was later published in a book titled “Points of Origin,” detailing the story of a firefighter turned serial arsonist as well as fires that were similar to actual events.

Orr, a 17-year Glendale fire veteran, was ultimately convicted of arson and sentenced to life without parole for the deaths.

Anyone with details about the city’s latest fires is urged to call Det. Travis Goodreau at (818) 548-3127. To remain anonymous, call Glendale Crime Stoppers at (818) 507-7867.

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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