Arsons on the Rise

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Firefighters are taking this whole week to remind residents about the dangers of arson.

Every year hundreds of people are injured by arson fires.

Last year, the numbers rose, putting firefighters on edge.

“According to FBI statistics, 2012 was the first increase in more than 6 years with the number of arsons throughout the united states, this particularly disturbing as we look at residential arson numbers because of the number of deaths and injuries that occur.” Dothan Fire Marshal Chris Etheredge said.

Etheredge says the goal of this year's arson awareness week is to reduce the number of residential arson, and focus on juvenile fire-setters in the community.

“Nationwide looking at several hundred deaths and more than 700 injuries caused by arsons and more than 16,000 fires throughout the United States.” Etheredge said.

To fight the growing number of fires, Dothan formed a task force.

“It's a combination of investigators from the Fire Marshalls Office and people from our fire prevention division.” Etheredge said.

He says a specific team was formed because arsons are difficult in nature.
“Traditionally arsons are difficult to prosecute because a lot of times your evidence is consumed in the fire. However we've been successful here locally. And have been more successful since the creation of the Dothan task force.”

Etheredge says they recently had an arson they solved in two days because of the force, and once an arsonist is caught.

“Most of those are felony charges that they will be facing if they’re caught and determined they are the ones who started the fire.” Dothan Police Corporal Robert Cole said.

Depending on their criminal history and how bad the end result of the fire was, arsonists could face up to life in prison.

“That’s not something that will be tolerated in our community and we will pursue those cases till closure and we have an arrest and conviction.” Etheredge said.

So far this year, Dothan has had 7 arsons.

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