Washington DC Fire Officials Change Arson Counting Method

April 30, 2013

Washington, D.C. fire officials have changed what constitutes arson in the district.

And The Washington Post reports that has lowered the number of fires deemed arson and increased the closure rate for investigators.

The department has narrowed the definition from deliberately set fires to those in which there was evidence of willful or malicious intent sufficient to support an arrest. The newspaper reports that has led to a drop of nearly 80 percent in arsons between fiscal 2009 and 2012.

Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe’s chief of staff, Andrew Beaton, said the numbers may seem low because the department is only counting proven cases that have led to charges. Department spokesman Tim Wilson said the distinction is part of a more detailed analysis of arson case identification and closure.

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