L.A. arson investigation expands to B.C.

VANCOUVER, B.C. – The investigation of Hollywood arson suspect Harry Burkhart widened Thursday to include a probe by Canadian authorities into whether he was involved in a series of suspicious fires in Vancouver.

Burkhart, who has been charged with 37 felony counts related to the New Year’s weekend arson rampage, lived in Vancouver with his mother before moving to the Los Angeles area.

Vancouver Police Department spokesman Lindsey Houghton said officials “have begun to liaise with the LAPD” but stressed that detectives have not connected Burkhart to any specific fires in that city.

Several Canadian news outlets reported that police were looking into any possible connection between Burkhart and at least 12 suspicious property arsons last year in Vancouver that remain unsolved. It’s unclear, however, whether Burkhart was in Vancouver at the times those fires occurred.

News of the probe comes a day after German prosecutors confirmed Burkhart, 24, was under investigation for suspected arson and insurance fraud in an Oct. 14, 2011, fire that caused major damage to a half-timbered duplex in the mountainous region near Marburg in central Germany.

U.S. immigration officials have confirmed that Burkhart flew from Frankfurt to Las Vegas six days after the fire.

LA arson investigators are trying to piece together the movements of Burkhart and his mother over the last few years. Authorities say Burkhart was “motivated by his rage against Americans” when he allegedly set the fires in Los Angeles. The fires began after Burkhart’s mother was detained by authorities on a German criminal warrant.

Dorothee Burkhart was due in federal court in Los Angeles today, where she was expected to continue fighting an extradition effort by the German government to try her on multiple fraud allegations.

The 53-year-old Chechen native, who is thought to be of distant German ancestry, was arrested last week by federal agents acting on behalf of the German court from which she fled more than four years ago.

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