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Arson causes an estimated $1 million in fire loss annually in Fort Worth

Posted May 8, 2019

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The Fort Worth Fire Department is targeting arson at vacant and abandoned buildings this year in an effort to reduce property loss, deaths and firefighter injury.

An estimated 23,800 vacant residential building fires are reported annually in the United States. This accounts for 6 percent of all residential building fires, resulting in an estimated 75 deaths, 200 injuries and $785 million in property loss each year.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, vacant and abandoned building fires also cause a disproportionate share of firefighter injuries. These buildings can have a negative impact on a community’s image. They may result in increased criminal activity and other public safety problems.

More than 72 percent of fires reported in vacant or abandoned structures are of incendiary or suspicious origin, and an additional 5 percent of the fires result from children playing with matches.

In Fort Worth, fires in vacant and abandoned buildings are consistent with national statistics (6.7 percent in 2017), but declined in 2018 (1.6 percent). In 2019, these types of fires are once again trending with national statistics (5.4 percent).

Arson causes an estimated $1 million in fire loss annually in Fort Worth. Each year, investigators are requested to conduct an origin and cause investigation at approximately 600 fires.

Fort Worth employs 21 members in its arson/bomb squad. This team provides 24-hour response, scene processing, case follow-up, expert testimony and K9 capabilities for arson and bomb incidents. Each member is state-certified as a firefighter, police officer and EMT/paramedic.

The most common property types for arson are vehicle (50 percent), residential (32 percent) and commercial (15 percent). The most common motives are revenge and insurance fraud.

Arson is a felony offense in Texas. Residents can help reduce arson at vacant and abandoned buildings by reporting suspicious activities or actions to local law enforcement or by providing specific information on any arson incident to Tarrant County Crime Stoppers at 817-469-TIPS. Callers may remain anonymous.

In addition, code violations can be reported to the city’s Code Compliance Department at 817-392-1234.

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