Michigan residents asked to help battle arson this week - WNEM TV 5

Michigan residents asked to help battle arson this week

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LANSING, MI (WNEM) -

This is Arson Awareness Week across Michigan, designed to emphasize the costly consequences of arson and encourage citizens to work together to prevent arson in their neighborhoods and communities. State officials say losses directly attributable to arson exceeded $16.2 million in Michigan last year.

"Arson affects all of us and we all have a stake in fighting this devastating and deadly crime,” said State Fire Marshal Richard Miller. “I urge communities to set up arson watch programs where citizens partner with their local fire departments and law enforcement officials. Together, we can reduce arson by reporting suspicious activity, setting up better security for our homes and businesses, and keeping a watchful eye on abandoned properties.”

According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System an estimated 1,835 fires were intentionally set in Michigan last year resulting in six deaths, more than 22 injuries and $16,213,642 in losses. This loss figure does not include indirect costs such as medical care, temporary shelter, business interruption, demolition, fire investigation, prosecution, court proceedings or incarceration.

Miller said arson fires can start from youngsters setting nuisance fires to a serial arsonist engaging a full-blown crisis. Motivation behind arson includes vandalism, concealing another crime, excitement, or most commonly, retaliation.

"Arson devastates lives, families and communities. We all need to work together to douse the flame of arson," said Lori Conarton of the Michigan Arson Prevention Committee (MAPC), a group formed to provide arson training, tip rewards and public awareness about the crime of arson.

MAPC's Arson Control Reward Program awards up to $5,000 for the information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of arsonists. The program has paid out more than $820,000 in awards since its inception. The program is responsible for putting 1,199 arsonists where they belong . . . behind bars. Any citizen who has information about an arson or suspicious fire can call toll-free, 1-800-44-ARSON, anonymously.

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