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Intentionally set fires on the rise in Michigan

Intentionally set fires on the rise in Michigan

Arson and suspicious fires rose 11 percent in Michigan last year, compared to 2008.  In 2009, there were 11,767 intentionally set and suspicious blazes in this state. That number was 10,564 the previous year.

Anti-arson officials said the spike in arson is likely related to the economic downturn and increase in the number of foreclosed houses. “Some people set blazes to collect on insurance premiums.  For others, it’s a way to avoid a foreclosure. Some people are even driven by the risk. Regardless of the reasons for setting fires, it is a dangerous game that results in deaths, injuries and millions of dollars in losses each year,” said James LaBuhn, Executive Director of the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee.

Cedar Springs had a case of arson in the fall of 2007 when landlord Rachelle Jackson set fire to the dentist office of Dr. Robert Mette at the corner of Church and Main Street—twice. Sgt. Ed Good, who was lead police officer on the case, told the Post at the time that they felt the motive was for insurance purposes. She later pled guilty and was sentenced for the crime.

According to the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee, arson and suspicious blazes don’t only destroy property they take lives. Last year, 72 people were killed in such fires.  Another 146 were injured.

Arson and suspicious fires destroyed property worth over $120 million. These loss figures do not include indirect costs such as medical care, funeral expenses, temporary shelter, business interruption, demolition, fire investigation, prosecution, court proceedings or incarceration.

One way citizens can help fight this crime is to report it. Since 1975, the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee has administered a statewide tip reward program to help put arsonists behind bars. Funded by insurance companies, the program has paid out $706,000 in rewards since its inception. It has led to the arrest of 1,135 individuals on arson and related charges during that same time.

Arson Control pays up to $5,000 for information that leads to the arrest and/or conviction of arsonists.  Any citizen who has information about an arson or suspicious fire can call 1-800-44-ARSON.

Although not all arsons can be prevented, there are some precautions property owners can take to deter fire setters.  MAPC officials suggest:
* Always keep entry doors and garages locked
* Keep yard lights on
* Make sure property is free of trash and debris
* Report all suspicious activity to local law enforcement officials.

The Michigan Arson Prevention Committee is the state’s front-line task force against arson. The group is comprised of representatives from police and fire services, the insurance industry, business and government. Visit the Committee’s website at www.miarsonprevention.org.

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One Response to “Intentionally set fires on the rise in Michigan”

  1. That is very helpful. It provided me a few ideas and I’ll be writing them on my website shortly. I’m bookmarking your blog and I’ll be back. Thanks again!

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