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After the Fire is Out: Why Telling IFD What You Know is Crucial

At least one third of the fires investigated in Indy last year were set on purpose.

INDIANAPOLIS--There have been six arson arrests in Indianapolis this year. The latest happened this week, said Rita Reith, spokesperson with the Indianapolis Fire Dept. The way arsonists are caught in Indy is a in a joint effort between the police and fire investigators.

A fire on South Bradley Ave., was suspicious and people who saw it told investigators that two men left the scene.

"Based on the witness statements, they were able to arrest two suspects and charge them preliminarily with arson, burglary of a residential structure, and then arson to a vehicle," said Reith.

Reith did not identify the men who were arrested.

She said, though, that if you see a fire and you see something suspicious, your info could be invaluable.

"The investigators really truly rely on witness statements and help from the general public. So, anytime anybody sees anything, we really appreciate people sticking around to help us with the information."

Reith also said that the people who investigate fires for the fire department are also trained as police officers, and vice-versa. 

"One's a firefighter, one's a police officer. They are cross-trained in each other's disciplines, which means that the firefighter goes through police training and the police go through the fire training. So they are able to investigate fire scenes and have both sides of the coin covered with the two investigators," said Reith.

She said the joint investigative unit has a "good clearance rate", meaning they either make arrests or come to another correct conclusion about the fires in a lot of the cases.

From the Indianapolis Fire Dept.

  • 358 fires were investigated by the IFD/IMPD Fire Investigations Section
  • 137 were ruled incendiary (ARSON)
  • 82 were ruled accidental
  • 139 were ruled undetermined
  • 14 civilian fire related injuries
  • 8 civilian fire fatalities
  • 22 arrests for the crime of arson
  • Thursdays experienced the highest call volume
  • 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. was the most frequent call time

PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis

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