LA Arson Suspect: Bail Set at $2.85 Million

PHOTO: Authorities say suspect Harry Burkhart has been arrested for arson fires around the Hollywood area.PlayABC
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The man accused of igniting dozens of fires across Los Angeles during a four-day rampage over New Year's weekend has been charged with 37 counts of arson and bail was set at $2.85 million.

Harry Burkhart was charged with 28 counts of arson of property and nine counts of arson of an inhabited structure Wednesday night at his initial appearance at a Los Angeles courthouse, District Attorney Steve Cooley told the Associated Press.

The charges also allege the 24-year-old German national placed an incendiary device designed to accelerate the fires under the engine area of cars.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Upinder S. Kalra postponed Burkhart 's arraignment until January 24, after a delay was requested by the suspect's public defender. More charges could be filed by that date.

"The amount of harm he did to the psyche of the citizens of these particular communities and all of Los Angeles County, I think it merits a life term," Cooley said.

Prosecutors alleged that Burkhart was "motivated by his rage against Americans" when he set a series of 52 blazes in the Los Angeles area, primarily in Hollywood and the Sherman Oaks neighborhoods. Authorities have called him "the most dangerous arsonist in L.A. history."

Since his arrest Burkhart has refused to cooperate with investigators.

Authorities previously said they were "very confident" in the arrest of Burkhart, who told police officers, "I hate America" as they placed him under arrest.

Burkhart may have been motivated by his anger at U.S. immigration authorities that stemmed from a deportation hearing involving his mother, Dorothee, that took place in Los Angeles County about a week and a half ago, sources told ABC News.

Burkhart broke into a tirade, spewing angry anti-American statements during the hearing for his mother before being escorted from the courtroom by U.S. Marshalls, officials told ABC News.

Officials said he shouted "F... the United States" during the Dec. 29 hearing, one day before he disappeared and the fires in Hollywood began.

According to a redacted criminal complaint that was unsealed today, Burkhart's mother was facing extradition because she pilfered rent security deposits and had skipped out on paying for a breast augmentation surgery.

Burkhart was apprehended when Los Angeles Police Deputy Shervin Lalezary spotted a minivan Monday with British Columbia plates that matched the description of a vehicle seen at several of the vehicle and carport fires ignited around Hollywood and West Hollywood, beginning Dec. 30.

When Lalezary initiated a traffic stop, he discovered the van's driver, Burkhart, also resembled the person of interest seen in a videotape released by the multi-agency arson task force assigned to the case. Grainy security footage from a parking garage that was set on fire showed a man in a ponytail, too.

Police seized flammable materials that matched the materials used in the blazes during the search of the minivan, according to sources.

Initially identified by police as a person of interest, Burkhart soon became a prime suspect. He was detained and questioned and, after subsequent interviews with police, was arrested.

On Monday afternoon he was charged with one count of arson of an inhabited dwelling. Since Burkhart's arrest on Monday, there have been no new fires set in the Los Angeles area.

The Associated Press and ABC News' Katie Kindelan, Colleen Curry, Kirit Radia and Ben Forer contributed to this report.