Arson Cases Take Toll On Henderson Police, Fire Departments
Posted December 16, 2004 4:38 a.m. EST
HENDERSON, N.C. — Since the spring, a fire bug has plagued Henderson. The series of fires is straining firefighters and a small city's budget.
In the past week, firefighters in Henderson have been busy. Someone destroyed an unoccupied house. Another fire took place at an unoccupied duplex apartment. Authorities say rags were put on the porch and set on fire.
Those fires make 39 suspicious fires in eight months. Some of the targets include unoccupied buildings, a vehicle, a Dumpster and a church.
"We strongly believe that several of these fires are related, but we don't believe that all of the fires are related," said Chief Glen Allen, of the Henderson Police Department.
The fires are not only taxing police investigators, but also firefighters.
"In Henderson, we run two engine companies and normally when we have a fire, it ties up both engine companies, and we have to call in other companies back in which were off-duty and we have to compensate them for it," said Henderson Fire Chief Danny Wilkerson.
The manpower costs are adding up. The City Council recently had to budget another $14,000 for the fire department. Wilkerson said fatigue and stress also adds up.
"We had temperatures in the 20s. We had an icing problem. Physically, it takes a lot on a firefighter when you are out there in that cold weather," Wilkerson said.
So far, no one has been hurt in Henderson's string of arson fires. The State Bureau of Investigation is now assisting Henderson investigators, who say they are looking at a couple of suspects.