Last night I watched the FOX Toledo story on the increase in arson in Toledo, 27 in the past month, (link). As reported by several media outlets, WTOL as an example, last night three more fires took place, (link). Most of the fires are taking place on the East Side and in the Old South End, with the remaining home owners concerned about their neighborhoods, WNWO talks to some residents, (link)
The City of Toledo as of today has upped the reward for information leading to the arrest of any of the arsonists, to $25,000, it was up to $10,000.
At a meeting with Block Watch leaders yesterday, the importance of neighbors watching for suspicious behavior was stressed, (Blade link).
Homes that are vacant are the main targets, with it being reported some of the homes were tagged with gang graffiti prior to the fires. Many of the targeted homes have alley access, this would make it more difficult for neighbors to see what’s happening. Most of the alley access areas have a limited line of vision.
The demolition process for vacant homes in Toledo is one that has been raised as a concern. There is a limited amount of funding as well as a lengthy process that has to be followed for a home to be put on the demolition list, unless it has been destroyed by a fire. It’s a problem that is affecting many urban communities, Pontiac has had 13 suspicious fires since June, (link).
Updated with an additional release from the City of Toledo, a chart and a map of the fires under investigation.
Toledo Fire and Police Increase Reward for Information on Fires
Reward Increased To $25,000 For Information Leading To An Arrest
Following two fires last night in the South End, Toledo fire investigators and police have increased the reward for information to $25,000 using money from the Law Enforcement Trust Fund. The reward money does not come out of the city’s general fund.
Toledo has experienced 80 suspicious fires in 2010. Many of these are suspected arsons and are the subject of ongoing investigation by the Toledo Fire and Rescue Investigative Unit. They continue to work with a task force that includes representatives from the FBI, Ohio Fire Marshal, and ATF in addition to Toledo Police. The fires present a danger to innocent citizens as well as to the firefighters who respond.
“We know there are people out there with information about who is starting these fires,” said Michael Wolever, Chief of Toledo Fire and Rescue. “These are not individual instances – there is a connection between these fires and we need help in putting an end to them before someone is seriously harmed. We’re hoping that by increasing the reward, someone will be compelled to come forward with information.”
Anyone with information regarding recent fires is urged to call Crime Stopper at 419.255.1111. Callers may remain anonymous and information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals involved may be worth up to a $25,000 reward.