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Arson Can Destroy Communities

Guest, May 7, 2013 | Posted in Public Safety

By Jeff Garfin, Fire Inspector

Arson. You may think, “so what, arson doesn’t affect me,” or “I Live in Edina, there’s no arson here,” or even “I thought arson was an inner city problem.” The truth about arson may surprise you.

Arson is a difficult crime to prove. Many fires that are categorized by an investigator to be “undetermined” are often times arson.

Arson in Edina:

  • Edina does not have the arson problem that larger cities have, but arson does exist in our city.
  • From small fires in garbage cans, dumpster fires and playground equipment fires, to school fires and even structure fires, we do have arson in Edina.
  • Any incendiary (arson) fire costs all of us, not just financially, but it also bruises the pride we all share in living or working in Edina.

Arson is a crime against every Minnesotan!

Why Arson?

  • The motives behind arson are often curiosity, vandalism, concealing another crime, excitement, revenge, insurance fraud or arson for profit.

Arson in Minnesota:

  • Arson destroys more than buildings – it can devastate a community. Arson ranges from youngsters setting nuisance fires to a full-blown crisis with a serial arsonist. An arson conviction can result in a fine of up to $35,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison.
  • In Minnesota, there were 1,122 identified, purposefully set (incendiary) fires in 2011. The value of property destroyed was estimated at more than $8 million.
  • Arson was the fourth leading cause of fire in Minnesota in 2011.
  • Fires in residential properties accounted for 65 percent of all incendiary fires reported in 2011 with a dollar loss of more than $5 million.

Arson Over Time:

  • In the last 23 years, incendiary fires caused 56 deaths and more than $333.7 million in property loss in Minnesota alone.
  • Incendiary fires must continue to be addressed through such efforts as the Arson Reward Program, the Arson Suspect Pointer System and Juvenile Fire setter Intervention Programs.

What You Can Do:

  • Get involved in a neighborhood watch program. Neighbors can reduce the likelihood of arson by promoting neighborhood watches, educating people about recognizing and reporting unusual activity and improving neighborhood security.
  • If you have information about an arson, call the arson tip line at 800-723-2020.

Youth Fire setting:

  • If a child in your life demonstrates an interest in fire that concerns you, there are resources available.
  • If you suspect, or find evidence that a child is setting even small fires, seek help. Fire play is not a normal part of childhood.
  • Nationally, children under 18 set more than half of all arson fires.
  • Fire setting behavior is often a symptom of a problem and may be manifested through stress and crisis in children’s lives.
  • This is a good blog post about preventing youth fire setting.

For more information:

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