The number of arson arrests is up in Iowa’s largest city, though statewide numbers aren’t available yet. Des Moines fire investigators probed 158 intentionally-set fires last year and made 67 arrests. That’s up from 56 arson fires and 48 arrests the previous two years. Jim Saunders is a spokesman for the Iowa Fire Marshal’s office. In 2003, there were 610 arsons reported statewide and 141 arrests made. Of those, 78 were juveniles or about 55-percent. About one-third of the suspects charged with arson in Des Moines were juveniles, ranging from age three to 17. Saunders says it’s a little disturbing to see the number of juveniles who are nailed for sparking blazes in Iowa. Whenever you have incidents where juveniles set fires, whether it’s a hay bale or an abandoned structure, he says it’s breaking the law and it puts lives at risk, including their own lives. Des Moines fire spokesman Brian O’Keefe says the number of arson fires has risen in recent years — along with the number of arrests. O’Keefe says it’s usually a revenge situation where someone burns the furniture or clothes of an ex-boyfriend or sets their own car on fire because they can’t afford it any more. Saunders says it’ll take some time yet before the new statewide arson numbers can be released. Saunders says there were 42 fire-related deaths in Iowa last year, numbers that have steadily fallen the past several years. He could not say how many of those fatal fires last year were the result of arson.
You are here: / / Arson arrests up in state’s largest city