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Letter: Important facts on arson

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Did you know 65 percent of Minnesota’s 318 incendiary structure fires reported in 2011 happened in residential properties?

May 5-11 is Arson Awareness Week in Minnesota. The theme is “Reducing Residential Arson.”

Residential arson can be prevented by implementing neighborhood clean-ups and improving internal and external security around homes and abandoned properties. Neighborhood crime prevention groups can add arson and suspicious activity to their watch.

Nationally, 50 percent of arson arrests are children under the age of 18. In Minnesota in 2011, 55 percent of arson arrests were juveniles. Of the 91 kids arrested in Minnesota that year, some were younger than 10 years old.

Juvenile arson is also primarily residential arson and can be prevented. If your child has experimented with or misused fire, it can be deadly. Addressing misuse of fire early, with appropriate intervention, can prevent a child from getting hurt or killed, getting involved in the legal system, or even becoming a serial arsonist. Youth Firesetting Prevention and Intervention teams are located throughout the state to provide appropriate intervention and stop this dangerous behavior before it is too late.

Call 1-800-500-8897 to be connected with a local team who will set up a meeting with the family and determine the best intervention strategy. There are many reasons that children start fires and the local teams are set up to help children and families be safe from fire and prevent juvenile arson.

Kathi Osmonson

Deputy State Fire Marshal

Youth Firesetting Prevention & Intervention

St. Paul

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