Rash of suspicious fires concern police, fire dept.

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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Fires in the community are always a concern for Amherst Fire Chief Bill Crossman, but when many appear to be deliberately set, it becomes even more serious.

We havent had a rash of suspicious fires to this extent since the early 1980s, said Crossman. Its really serious. If they continue without someone being prosecuted, its just a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or worse.

Rash of suspicious fires concern police, fire dept.

Fires in the community are always a concern for Amherst Fire Chief Bill Crossman, but when many appear to be deliberately set, it becomes even more serious.

We havent had a rash of suspicious fires to this extent since the early 1980s, said Crossman. Its really serious. If they continue without someone being prosecuted, its just a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or worse.

The chief counted nine suspicious fires in town in the past two years, including several recent incidents.

The calls have been taxing on the manpower of the department, the majority of which is made up of volunteers, at a time of year when they are already busy responding to grass and brush fires, according to Crossman.

One day last week, the department had 45 members respond to a structure fire on East Victoria Street, followed by a second call that kept them out until after midnight. While there they had to divert one truck to a dumpster fire, then shortly after returning to the station they had another call to a fire on Church Street.

You dont even have time to clean up and get ready for the next fire before you have to go out again, he said, explaining that many of these firefighters are taken away from their regular jobs to respond to these fires, causing losses in production and dollars for local employers.

He pointed out that fires in abandoned buildings are even more dangerous to fight than those at a residence because the firefighters are never certain what is inside them. He urged the public to come forward with any information on the suspicious fires.

If you see anything suspicious going on in your neighbourhood, call the police or call the fire department, said Crossman. All the eyes we can get right now looking are going to help us fund the culprits causing these fires.

awagstaff@amherstdaily.com

Geographic location: East Victoria Street, Church Street

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