Eighteen hundred, that’s the number of arson fires set in Michigan last year.

This week is arson awareness week and fire inspectors want to warn everyone that arson fires are detectable. Six deaths occurred in Michigan last year as a result of arson. Most arson cases in our area are arson for profit, costing the state sixteen million dollars, just last year.

Ron DeMarse, Fire Marshall for Marquette Township says, “Up here when we do have an arson fire it’s usually either a fire for profit; burning a vehicle or a home that they can’t afford and so people will set an arson fire.

“There can be any number of reasons, it can be for the insurance fraud, revenge or to cover up another crime. We have seen instances for all of those things. Arson is a heinous crime and the people that are killed or injured are caught up in it unknowingly,” said Captain Dean Mallos, Fire Investigator with the Marquette City F.D.

Fire officials are specially trained to detect an arson fire from an accidental fire and say the punishment once an arson fire is detected is pretty stiff.

“We basically go by just ruling out, is there an electrical close by is there a gas outlet close by, what possibly could have started the fire? You have to have a heat generator source to start a fire. We start ruling out and eventually you get to the point that there was no heat source in this particular area so then you start looking at was it an intentional set, continued DeMarse.

Mallos adds, “If there is an injury or death then an arson fire does get charged as a crime, it could be first, second degree murder or manslaughter, so it does carry a heavy penalty with it, continued

Although you may not be involved in an arson fire, these fires indirectly affect everyone with higher insurance rates and a loss of jobs. Fire officials are asking that if you see or know something, say something.