State Fire Marshal: Public action is the key to solving arson investigations

Arson Awareness Week highlights up to $10,000 in rewards for information

COLUMBUS — So far in 2024, investigators with the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of State Fire Marshal have ruled 145 fires across the state as being arson. That’s roughly 44% of the 330 total fires investigated this year by the division.

In recognition of Arson Awareness Week, the Ohio Department of Commerce Division of State Fire Marshal is sending a strong and clear message: Every member of the community holds the key to eliminating the threat of arson.

SFM’s Fire & Explosion Investigation Bureau, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, is intensifying efforts to prevent arson and solve arson-related cases in Ohio communities. Due to the critical role the public plays in solving these crimes and bringing arsonists to justice, up to $10,000 in rewards is currently being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of individuals responsible for these acts.

“Arson is a direct threat to the safety and well-being of our citizens,” said Josh Hobbs, chief of SFM’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau. “We are committed to using every resource available to find those responsible. We urge anyone with information, no matter how insignificant the information may seem, to come forward. Your vigilance can save lives. If you hear or see something, say something.”

SFM’s Fire & Explosion Investigation Bureau is a law enforcement agency that investigates the origin and cause of fires, explosions and fireworks incidents in Ohio. The following is a breakdown of arson-related cases investigated by the bureau in recent years.

2022: 385 of the 953 fires it investigated were ruled arson (40%)

2023: 462 of the 937 fires investigated were ruled arson (49%)

As of May 6, 2024: 145 of the 330 fires investigated were ruled arson (44%)

Arson is a destructive act that involves intentionally setting fire to property and can result in devastating consequences, including loss of life, property damage, and economic losses. Arson attacks have been carried out against individuals, businesses, and even entire communities. The intentional setting of fires can cause fear and terror, and can be used to intimidate or harm specific individuals or groups.

In addition to sharing tips and other information, the State Fire Marshal is asking for the public to share photo or video footage that could be related to arson cases, such as footage captured by doorbell or security cameras.

How to report information:

∫ Anyone with information related to an arson case is encouraged to contact the State Fire Marshal’s tip line at 800-589-2728.

∫ Callers can remain anonymous, and all tips will be thoroughly investigated.

“In many cases, the key piece of evidence that leads to an arson conviction comes from a member of the community. You are our eyes and ears on the ground,” said Hobbs. “By working together, we can make a significant impact in preventing arson and ensuring the safety of our communities. Many arson cases have been solved by somebody sharing what they saw; even the smallest details can be just what our investigators need to get these individuals arrested and off the street.”

For more information on how to prevent, report and solve arson and protect your community, visit com.ohio.gov/arson.


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