This week is Arson Awareness Week in the State of Illinois. The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshall uses the week to help reduce the frequency and costs caused by this crime. According to the United States Fire Administration, an estimated 210,300fires are intentionally set each year. Losses resulting from these fires includedapproximately375civilian deaths, 1,300civilian injuries, and $1 billion in direct property damage. The incidence of these fires typically peaks in March and April and again in July. On average, OSFM Arson Special Agents and canine teams respond to over a thousand investigations yearly. In 2019, the OSFM’s Arson Division closed 49 arson related cases with an arrest. Most recently, the office made an arrest stemming from a string of suspicious barn fires in southern Macoupin County.
Fire Marshall spokesman J.C. Fultz says if you see something suspicious call law enforcement. “We’re really asking that every citizen in the community to participate in combating these crimes. We’re asking that if you see something out of the ordinary or if you notice some suspicious activity in a boarded up home that’s vacant, let your local authorities know. Call them and say there’s something weird going on. Now, if you own a property that’s maybe abandoned or vacant that you need to clean up around, clean up the leaves and firewood. Organize overgrown brush. Get it out of there. Get it away from those buildings. Make sure the buildings are secure and people aren’t able to get inside it.”
If you know any information about a recent arson incident, a statewide hotline is available for anonymous tips at 1-800-252-2947. For more information about arson or the Fire Marshall’s Arson Division vist sfm.illinois.gov.