Eyewitnesses reported seeing a suspect toss an incendiary device at a donated couch left beneath the storage unit. Once the fire began, its destructive flames spread quickly and soon engulfed the entire trailer. By their arrival, firefighters could do little to save the storage unit and its contents other than dousing the parking lot inferno to prevent its spread.
As we expressed last week, we urge arson investigators to move quickly in the identification and subsequent arrest of those — or the one — responsible for such a crime whose potential could have been far worse than the destruction of a trailer and its contributed contents. Had those flames found their way, other structures could have been impacted — specifically, the new Wendy’s restaurant and the BI-LO Food Store and shopping center.
We shudder to think of the possible consequences.
Arson is one of the most cold-blooded, premeditated and potentially lethal crimes imaginable.
Its heartbreaking impact stretches far beyond dollar value and structural loss. Arson is also measured in human intangibles like emotional scarring, personal anguish and intimidating fear.
Even more significantly, arson is about human life. And its taking.
According to information provided by the U.S. Fire Administration, arson is the leading cause of fires. In this country alone, 267,000 blazes annually are linked to the actions of an arsonist. Arson also kills. On average, 475 lives are lost to arson each year. Intentionally set blazes injure another 2,000. Arson destroys $1.4 billion in property.
These numbers are alarming, especially when considering their magnitude is caused by the warped actions of a disturbed mind — whether as the result of mental imbalance, anger or the perceived need for vengeance against another.
Half of all arson arrests are juveniles. Sadly, this points to the most inexplicable of reasons — peer pressure from misguided dares, uncaring initiations into subversive elements such as gangs or perhaps just sheer boredom.
Certain regions or areas often have highest arson rates. These might include, but are not limited to, vacant and abandoned buildings, and poorer neighborhoods. We are told impoverished sections of a community experience 14 times the number of arsons as higher income neighborhoods.
Another reason is insurance fraud whose numbers are increasing in time with America’s home foreclosure rates. According to the www.fire-extinguisher101.com website, the nation’s struggling economy can be linked directly to rising incidents of arson.
According to the Internet site, “ ... A spike in the foreclosure r ate has raised fear in many insurance companies that clients might see arson as an escape from overwhelming debts.”
The informative site adds, “In a report from the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, it was noted that ‘ ... with untold thousands of homeowners struggling with ballooning sub-prime mortgage payments, fraud fighters are watching closely for a spike in arsons by desperate homeowners who can no longer afford their home payments.”
Regardless of its cause, arson is a violent crime.
Giving it a categorical reason seems oddly inappropriate.
Because no reason can justify such a callous act of personal malice.
Arson is not just a crime against property. Arson is a threat to life.