Updated 05/07/2012 06:24 PM
Arson Awareness Week focuses on youth prevention
National Arson Awareness Week is underway. The campaign is held every year to bring attention to the crime of arson and its impact. As our Melissa Kakareka tells us, this year's theme focuses on preventing arson among the communities' youngest members.
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BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Youth arson is a growing problem in many communities.
"We've had several fires over the years in Broome County where children were responsible. We had one instance several years ago where a house in the range of $1.5 to $2 million burnt to ground by children playing with matches, several fatal fire events where children set the fire and then died," said Broome County Fire Investigator Jeff Winchell.
That's why "Preventing Youth Firesetting" is the theme of this year's National Arson Awareness Week, which is now underway.
"Arson is always a big deal. You lose property. Quite often you have burned out buildings that sit there for years. With children, people sometimes try to hide it. They don't want their children to get in trouble so they try to cover it up or feel it isn't important, so sometimes it goes unnoticed or unreported," said Binghamton Fire Marshall Daniel Eggleston.
Fire officials say more than half of all arson arrests in the United States are juveniles.
As part of this week's campaign, they remind parents to set a good example about fire safety and seek counseling for youths who display troubling fire habits.
"Lock up the lighters. Lighters are just as dangerous as a gun. It has that same potential to hurt or kill someone," said Winchell.
And they remind the public to report any suspicious activity that they think might be related to arson.
"Any activity they see that doesn't look right, report it to the police or fire department," said Eggleston.
Helping prevent arson in both youth and older adults in the future.
Arson Awareness Week runs until Saturday, May 12th.