A man was in custody Monday for allegedly setting or trying to set a series of fires in South Pasadena, Pasadena and Los Angeles, police said.
Javier Viera, 35, was being held in lieu of $2 million bail. The serial arson suspect was taken into custody on Sunday night and booked on suspicion of arson, the South Pasadena Police Department reported.
Viera is suspected in 21 arson/attempted arson incidents in South Pasadena, four in Pasadena and one in Los Angeles since mid-November, according to police. The incidents started as small vegetation fires and escalated to blazes set under or involving parked vehicles, and one involving the exterior door to a business.
A break in the case came when fingerprints were recovered from an incendiary device that did not burn completely, South Pasadena Detective Sergeant Robert Bartl said.
"Prints that we uncovered in one of our locations in South Pasadena led us to a subject that lived in our city," said Bartl. "Last night, the suspect was followed to the scene of a fire that occured just outside South Pasadena in L.A. He was seen gathering incendiery devices prior to lighting the fire, which was used in most of the fires. That was dried pine leaves in a bag placed underneath the vehicles. Once he returned home from lighting the fire, officers placed him under custody at his home as he pulled up."
Bartl said the break came after weeks of surveillance and investigative work. None of the fires were life-threatening, though one fire endangered a furniture store.
South Pasadena police were able to recover some corroborating evidence at Viera's residence.
"Through further investigations and interviewing he ended up confessing to almost all the fires that have occurred since basically last November of 2012," said Bartl.
Clarification: The number of suspected arsons Viera was involved in and the amount of his bail was revised and has been updated.