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Arson Awareness Week Aims to Provide Citizens with Information Needed to Prevent Arson

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CLARKSBURG -

On February 28, 2014 at around 4 a.m. the River City Grille caught on fire, and just a few days later that fire was determined to be arson which left the business closed and people without jobs.

The week of May 4 to May 10 is National Arson Awareness Week which is aimed at raising awareness about arson, and possibly preventing situations like that.

"The importance of it is to make the public and community aware that arson is a crime that does affect every community,” said Captain Chris Magee, Clarksburg Fire Marshal.

Magee investigates suspicious fires, and said when one is intentionally set there are many dangers.

"Typically the danger of arson fire especially in unoccupied or abandoned structures: fire fighters have to perform their job and these structures are not always structurally sound. The other danger of arson fires in these unoccupied structures is typically there may be occupied structures in the immediate vicinity and become exposure problems and risks for people that may be residing there,” explained Magee.

Magee said there are ways the public can help prevent these fires.

"The public and the community in general need to be vigilant in suspicious activity in and around some of these abandoned or unoccupied structures. If you see something suspicious report it,” Magee said.

The theme of this year's Arson Awareness Week is vehicle arson, which we don't see much in our area, but Magee said it is common.

"Statistics from the US Fire Administration indicates that over 25% of all arson fires are vehicle arson fires. There are different reasons for it, whether it be revenge or insurance fraud, those are the issues we run into typically with vehicle arson fires,” explained Magee.

Magee said those can be prevented as well, just by being aware.