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Arson Awareness Week: May 3 - 9, 2009
04/30/2009
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247

Links valid for 30 days
Proclamation: http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/Arson.Proclamation.doc
Stayton Arson: http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/Stayton.1.jpg
Dallas Arson: http://www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/news/Dallas.1.JPG
 
Arson for Profit, or economic arson, is a criminal method of obtaining money from a fire loss policy. To help in brining attention to losses associated with arson, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski joined governors around the country in proclaiming May 3 -9, 2009 as "Arson Awareness Week".
 
"Let's be aware that the losses from arson are staggering, When businesses or individuals set fires to reduce financial loss, recoup investments, or dispose of depreciated assets for a payout, it affects all Oregonians. Through public education and awareness, we can hope to reduce the number of arson incidents that threaten our lives and property," said Governor Kulongoski.
 
As noted in a United States Fire Administration (USFA) news release, the USFA and its partners are using the week of May 3rd to the 9th to focus public attention on the alarming statistics about Arson for Profit and hope to expand the resources and support necessary to reduce this crime. The USFA is partnering with the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI).
 
(The USFA news release and link to a media kit is available at
http://www.usfa.hds.gov/media/press/2009releases/040609b.shtm )
 
According to Oregon's Law Enforcement Data System (LEDS), 2007 preliminary statistics indicate there were 1,445 reported arson incidents (an average of 4 per day) with 463 arrests statewide. In 2008, the Oregon State Police (OSP) Arson & Explosives Section investigated 157 fires. Of those reported investigations, 74 were determined to be arson, 45 accidental and 38 an undetermined cause. Nine of the arson cases were closed by OSP with arrests of a suspect(s).
 
Arson investigations can be difficult, but two cases involving serial arsonists are examples that the investigations can lead to arrests and ultimate adjudication in court. Photographs from both cases are provided with this release.
  • The Oregon State Police Arson Unit assisted Stayton Police Department, Stayton Fire Department and the Oregon State Fire Marshal with the investigation of 14 suspected arson fires reported in the Stayton and Sublimity areas between August 2007 and September 2008. JERRY NICHOLSON JR., age 34, from Stayton, was subsequently arrested and pled guilty in January 2009 to one count of Arson in the First Degree. He was sentenced to 36 months incarceration.
  • The Oregon State Police Arson Unit assisted Dallas Police Department, Dallas Fire Department and the Oregon State Fire Marshal with the investigation of 22 suspected arson fires in and around the city of Dallas between October and December of 2008. The investigation resulted in the confession and arrest of JAMES R. PORTER, age 30, from Dallas, for five counts of Arson in the First Degree, nine counts of Arson in the Second Degree, and eight counts of Reckless Burning. In March 2009, PORTER pled guilty to four counts of Arson in the First Degree and was sentenced to 24 months incarceration, 6 years probation, and ordered to pay $77,000 in restitution.
 
From 2004 through 2008, the Oregon State Police Arson & Explosives Section recorded 429 intentional fires that resulted in 14 civilian deaths, 11 civilian injuries, and $41 million in property damage.
 
"Arson, whether for profit or not, is a crime that goes beyond the mere burning of property. These intentional fires also result in deaths and injuries to firefighters and innocent people," said State Fire Marshal Randy Simpson.