Arson investigators have high success rate
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Arson investigators in Vancouver solved 16 of 31 incendiary fires in 2010, besting the 28 percent average arrest rate nationwide, according to a news release touting the accomplishment.
The Vancouver Fire-Arson Team is composed of seven deputy fire marshals and three police officers. The unit solved 51 percent of arsons last year, according to the release issued by Capt. Chris Moen, a Vancouver Fire Department spokesman.
Statistics show arson is the third-leading cause of residential fires and residential fire deaths. It’s also a major cause of injuries and financial loss. Crime experts say arsons are among the toughest crimes to crack, according to the release.
“Vancouver’s combined unit is practical, efficient and effective in all aspects of fire investigation combating the crime of arson,” Interim Fire Chief Joe Molina said in the release.
The press release explained that arsons are difficult to solve because the perpetrator has often fled the scene before firefighters and investigators arrive. Evidence, too, is often destroyed.
“We treat every fire as a potential arson attempt until proven otherwise,” Heidi Scarpelli, acting Vancouver fire marshal, said. “If a crime has been committed, Vancouver’s fire investigators are trained in fire investigation methodology, technology, and science to preserve and process evidence from the incident to be used in court testimony.”