Fire Official Seek Arson TipsPublished 5:03pm Sunday, April 8, 2012
Niles police and fire officials are asking the public for any information they have regarding a string of recent arson fires.
The city has had eight fires classified as arson since June 2011. There were a total of two arson fires in the four years prior.
“We are very concerned about it and continue to stand by in case anything happens,” Niles City Fire Chief Larry Lamb said. “The hope is we get a tip that helps break this case and then we can put a stop to it once and for all.”
The Michigan Arson Prevention Committee is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of anyone on arson-related charges. Residents can call in anonymous tips to (269) 683-1313 or (800) 442-7766.
Signs with information about the reward and how to submit an anonymous tip have been placed at the locations of the arson or suspicious fires.
Lamb said the program has paid out thousands of dollars for good tips before.
“Hopefully somebody sees this and remembers something, no matter how small,” Lamb said. “We can put those small somethings together and hopefully come up with a good lead.”
Three fires damaged four properties located within a few blocks of each other in Niles on April 2. The fires all occurred within an hour of each other. The fires at 1603 Cass St. and 710 N. 13th St. — both vacant properties — were declared arson. The fire at 1329 Louis St. that damaged two occupied homes was classified as undetermined, but is suspicious in nature.
Arson fires also occurred at the Niles Fraternal Order of Police building on March 14; a vacant home in the 1200 block of Broadway Street Feb. 16; a vacant home in the 400 block of South 15th Street Oct. 29; and vacant factory on North Eighth Street June 13. An arson vehicle fire happened in the 600 block of North 12th Street on Sept. 11. That case has been closed.
Lamb wouldn’t confirm if any similarities have been found between the fires. No suspects have been announced in any of the open cases.
“We try to hypothesize on what type of individual or what type of issue may be going on, and then you try to eliminate or rule out that type of an issue,” Lamb said.
“So there are several different types of possibilities out there, but I won’t speculate.”
Tags: Niles Fire Department