City leaders hope task force will keep arson numbers down

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Summertime is nearing and city leaders are hoping a reinstated task force will keep the number of arsons down in Toledo this year.

Toledo Fire Chief Luis Santiago announced last summer the Arson Task Force was being reinstated after the high volume of suspicious fires stretched the department's manpower, leading to nearby cities having to be put on standby to help. The task force is made up of firefighters, police officers and FBI agents who have the power to make arrests.

The goal of the task force is to go to fires that appear suspicious, collect evidence, pinpoint who set the fires and then arrest them.

The group has helped Toledo fire investigators arrest nine people so far this year, and 44 last year.

Citizens have also been cited in helping solve some cases.

"They're in their neighborhoods all the time. We just come when we're needed, so the public can really be our eyes and ears. They can see suspicious activity. They can see a house that's vacant and know there shouldn't be anyone in there," said Toledo Fire and Rescue Department Lieutenant Matthew Hertzfeld.

If anyone has any information about a recent fire, call CrimeStopper, at 419-255-1111.

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