Firefighters across Iowa and the country have been educating kids and others this week about preventing arson during “Arson Awareness Week.” Jim Saunders, a spokesman for the State Fire Marshal’s office, says business owners and the public can help prevent arson. He says you should report suspicious activity near homes and businesses, secure flammable liquids and combustibles away from buildings to prevent “arsons of opportunity.”

Saunders says you should educate your kids and take steps to prevent them from setting fires. Saunders says always keep matches and lighters out of the reach of young children as he says there are several arson fires set by kids playing with matches or lighters. Saunders says you should also report it anytime you think a fire may’ve been intentionally set. He says you can call the arson hotline at 800-532-1459.

Saunders says arson can be one of the toughest crimes to solve. He says the crime lab technology and investigative works allows them to recover a lot of evidence, but he says it’s very tedious work, especially when a building sustains substantial damage. Saunders says arson fires take lives and cause lots of damage.

Saunders says some 10 to 15-percent of all fires in Iowa are arson fires and that results in some 15-million dollars in property damage. Saunders says damage from arson fires ends up costing us all in increased insurance rates.