How to prevent and report arson - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

How to prevent and report arson

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) – Arson seems to be a serious problem that won't go away in the Toledo area.

In recent months, numerous vacant buildings have gone up in flames, causing investigators and residents who live close to the flames serious issues.

So why do people choose to burn down a building?

"Sometimes it's for profit. Sometimes it's for kicks. Sometimes somebody's trying to clear a house. It's really hard to tell.' explained Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld of the Toledo Fire Department.

Unfortunately, it happens to be one of the most difficult crimes to solve, because evidence can be lost in the fire and extinguishing process. Witnesses are also typically reluctant to come forward.

Although the number of fires so far this year is lower than last year, the 143 arsons in 2011 are taken personally by investigators each and every time. The number was also higher last year because of a firebug who was eventually caught.

"It's not an accidental fire when it's arson. So that means someone is doing that with some disregard." said Lt. Hertzfeld.

Investigators told WTOL that you can help find arsonists by keeping an eye on vacant properties in your neighborhood, and call 911 if you see any suspicious activity.

If you live next door to an empty house or building, Lt. Hertzfeld gave this advice:

"They can make sure that there's no brush between houses, make sure you have a working smoke detector, make sure there's an escape plan if a fire."

If you are in need of a free smoke detector, all you need to do is stop by any Toledo Fire Station and fill out the proper paperwork.

If you have any information about any of the previously started fires, or if you see anything suspicious, call Crimestopper at 419-255-1111.

Copyright 2011 WTOL. All rights reserved.

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