A convicted arsonist was charged Thursday with setting 10 fires in three days in the San Fernando Valley that burned cars, trucks and motorhomes as part of a larger spree that caused an estimated $1 million in damage.
In one incident, three adjacent motorhomes were torched in the same blaze, said David Liske, senior arson investigator with the city Fire Department.
Kurt Kaye Billie, 34, of North Hollywood was charged with 20 felony counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson, which alludes to his previous conviction in Japan while he was serving in the Marines.
Billie could face a maximum sentence of life in state prison if convicted. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment, where a Superior Court judge set his bail at $2,025,000. Monique Hoffmayer, a public defender assigned to represent him at his arraignment, declined to comment.
Billie was charged with setting the fires in North Hollywood beginning in late July. Seven other fires remained under investigation, Liske said.
The motive for the fires was not clear, and there was no evidence to indicate another arsonist was involved, Liske said.
While vehicles were targeted, at least one home and an apartment building were damaged by the flames. No injuries were reported.
Authorities began staking out the area overnight in hopes of catching the arsonist. Billie was arrested Tuesday near the scene of a motorhome fire.
Billie was sentenced in 2001 to five years in prison by a Japanese judge for setting fire to seven restaurants and bars while he was stationed in Okinawa.
The chief judge said Billie was drunk and set the fires to escape from reality.
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