COLUMBUS, Ohio – Crimes are being concealed through arson and other individuals are using fire as a violent tool in communities across Ohio, according to recent investigations.
Arson is a destructive act, which involves setting fire to property, and can result in devastating consequences, including loss of life, property damage, and economic losses. Arson attacks have been carried out against individuals, businesses, and even entire communities. The intentional setting of fires can cause fear and terror and can be used to intimidate or harm specific individuals or groups.
The State Fire Marshal’s Fire & Explosion Investigation Bureau is a law enforcement agency that investigates the origin and cause of fire, explosions and fireworks incidents in Ohio. In 2022, 385 of the 953 fires they investigated were deemed arson (40%). This was an 18% increase from 2021 arsons. So far, in 2023, 147 of the 385 fires investigated were intentionally set (38%). As National Arson Awareness Week gets underway, State Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon stresses the importance of reporting suspicious activity or if you suspect that an arson crime has been committed.
“The use of arson as a weapon of violence and crime concealment is a concerning trend,” Reardon said, “and the economic impact of arson is staggering, with millions of dollars lost in property damage. We must raise public awareness of the dangers of arson and encourage individuals to report any suspicious activity.”
Arson is often used as a means of concealing other crimes. For example, arson can be used to destroy evidence of other crimes, such as theft, burglary, or murder. It makes it more difficult for law enforcement to identify and prosecute those responsible.
Josh Hobbs, Fire & Explosion Investigation Bureau chief with the State Fire Marshal urges the public to provide any information when there is an arson case in their community, even if they think it’s insignificant.
“Many arson cases have been solved by somebody sharing what they saw; even the smallest details can be just what our investigators need to get these individuals arrested and off the street,” he said.
The Blue Ribbon Arson Committee offers up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person(s) responsible for arson. Anyone with information can contact the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office at 800-589-2728. Arson fires are preventable through education and awareness, additional resources are available at the State Fire Marshal’s website: com.ohio.gov/fire.
Submitted by the Ohio Department of Commerce.