Heap of Deliberate Fires Spawn Arson Hotline

December 22, 2007

Because of an increase in the number of arson fires in Pine Bluff, Ark., officials established a new hotline for reporting leads on arsoninous criminality.

“We’re trying to take a pro-active approach and asking the public for help in trying to stop some of them,” Pine Bluff Fire Department spokesman Shauwn Howell said. “Of course if somebody sees something that’s happening right then, we want them to call 911.”

This year, the department apparently fought 122 arson fires compared to 101 In 2006.

Howell said arsonists commonly target vacant structures, “Right now we’re doing some research and trying to determine how many vacant houses there are in each district. Once we know that, we can see if any kind of pattern develops.”

Recently, a vacant structure at 5520 Cheatham St. in the Dollarway area burned in an arson fire. “This house burned in October and was boarded up but burned again [Dec. 15],” Howell said.

The department said, inside the city limits, 143 fires were reported in November resulting in an estimated $437,000 in damages. So far in December another $147,000 in damages from 67 fires. Most of those fires were reportedly accidental and many of the fires at vacant houses are still under investigation.

The 24-hour number is 870-543-5150.

Information from: Pine Bluff Commercial,

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