This year's Arson Awareness Week (May 5-11) focuses on how to “Reducing Residential Arson.” The goal is to provide communities with tools and strategies to help combat arson in their neighborhoods. The motivations behind the burning of homes are curiosity, vandalism, concealing another crime, excitement, revenge and insurance fraud or arson for profit.
An estimated 16,800 intentionally set fires in residential buildings occur annually in the United States. These fires result in an estimated 280 deaths, 775 injuries and over $593 million in property loss each year.
Five percent of all residential building fires were intentionally set.
Lighters (22 percent), heat from other open flame or smoking materials (19 percent), and matches (15 percent) were the leading heat sources of intentionally set fires in residential buildings.
The majority (76 percent) of intentionally set fires in residential buildings occurred in one- or two-family dwellings. An additional 19 percent of fires occurred in multifamily dwellings.
Forty-one percent of the intentionally set residential fires occurred in vacant buildings.
Rubbish, trash and waste (8 percent); magazines, newspapers and writing paper (7 percent); and uncontained flammable liquids or gas (6 percent) were the items most often first ignited in intentionally set fires in residential building.
Statistics showed that 14,717 law enforcement agencies reported 43,412 arsons.
Arsons involving single occupancy and other residential structures accounted for 29.3 percent (12,720) of the total number of arson offenses.
Preliminary FBI UCR data from the first six months of 2012 shows an increase in arson offenses for the first time in six years.
Tips to help stop arson in your community:
- Clean around your house:
- Trim or remove shrubbery that may block the view of your house from the street.
- Remove unused and unneeded paper, trash, cleaning supplies and other materials that could be used as fuel for a fire by an arsonist.
- Install lights that cover all sides of your house.
- Install a burglar and fire alarm system in your home.
- Keep doors and windows locked and bolted.