Governor Rick Snyder has dubbed May 5th through the 11th as Arson Awareness Week. The State Fire Marshal is aligning with the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee to alert citizens about the expensive effects of residential arson.
Last year alone, there were 782 residential arson fires resulting in damages totaling over $10 million, and those figures don’t take indirect costs into consideration. Swelling medical bills and legal fees can be an expensive effect, but often times they are cause, as well.
“Quite often the reason for them starting fire is to get themselves out of that financial problem they’re in. Not only does it not work, if it’s found to be arson and insurance fraud, but now they’re also facing prison time and a myriad of other problems that are really going to exacerbate to the point where they’re now in a much stickier situation than they were before the fire started,” noted Lt. Jeff Green, Marquette Fire Inspector.
Motivation for committing arson varies from case to case. It can range from kids playing with fire as more of a nuisance to malicious vandalism in order to conceal a crime.
“Fire acts in a pretty specific manner. When it steps outside of that normal way of traveling and starting, it clues us in that something else happened there. If I feel the fire was started intentionally, I have to go from there and basically figure out how it was started, and possibly why it was started,” Green added.
The Michigan Bureau of Fire Services and the MAPC have some tips to help safeguard your home:
- Keep yard lights on at night
- Set up inexpensive motion-activated lighting near entrances
- Put interior lights on timers to give the illusion someone is home
- Install burglar and fire alarms and a home sprinkler system
- Keep a clear view of the house from the road by cutting or removing overgrown bushes
- Keep house and garage doors and windows locked and bolted.
- Keep occupied and unoccupied property free of trash and debris
- If you can help an investigation into arson or suspicious fire call 1.800.44.ARSON
- Those who assist in the case can be rewarded with up to $5,000 for their information
www.michigan.gov/lara & www.michigan.gov/bfs