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Fire department says arson numbers up this year in Indianapolis

Posted: 8:14 PM, Jul 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-09 20:34:37-04
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INDIANAPOLIS — After an early morning fire that was determined to have been set intentionally, the Indianapolis Fire Department reported Tuesday that nearly 30 percent of the fires investigated this year in the city were ruled to be arson.

Rita Reith, a public information officer for IFD, said 109 of the 354 fires this year involving structures or vehicles were determined to have been set intentionally. Eighteen people have been arrested for arson. In 2018, Reith said 186 of the year's 609 fires were set on purpose with 45 arrests made.

Reith said fires are categorized as incendiary (arson), accidental, natural and undetermined.

"Intentionally set fires are never OK, no matter what the motive," Reith said. "The opportunity for firefighters to get injured, curious kids to get in trouble and neighboring homes to get damaged is not worth the risk. Intentionally set fires also temporarily divert important resources from those in the community who live in that area and have a legit emergency issue."

IFD responded to a fire early Tuesday morning on the east side at 326 Harlan St. that was ruled to be arson. In a tweet, the department said firefighters had been called to the house four times since the middle of May before Tuesday's blaze.

Reith said to keep in mind that the statistics might even out by the end of the year. She identified six reasons fires are intentionally set: vandalism, excitement, revenge, fraud or profit, crime concealment and extremism.

"Without always knowing the reason behind a set fire, it is not uncommon for us to see ebbs and flows in the numbers, based on other factors that may contribute to the motive," she said.