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Lexington firefighters alarmed about rise in arson cases

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Arson scenes have taken over many of the headlines for much of 2012. Fires have been set on State Street following the UK victories on the road to their National Title, a fire was set to the Village Idiot just days before it was supposed to open downtown, and most notably the string of cases on Hill Rise Drive.

"I don't have an exact number but what we have had, though, are outbreaks of arsons that we have not had in the past. The Hill Rise Drive, is a perfect example, we had somewhere around 20 arsons, I believe it was, before it was all said and done, in the span of about two months," stated Battalion Chief Ed Davis, who is sounding the alarm on this scary trend.

However, the Chief says it's not only unprecedented it's senseless.

"Every single arson I've ever heard of is just a senseless crime. It's something that didn't have to be done."

Still, this year seams to be the year for arson cases, said Davis, and it's changing a lot of lives.

"You walk out and you wonder what's happened, or what's going on today," said Jewel Burnette, who lives on Hill Rise Drive and was a victim of one of the many arsons in the area.

Her family's van was set on fire back in June, and yet the damage is still visible on the car, today.

"It's been nerve wracking."

It's not just about property loss, though. Davis says these arsons also put lives on the line, including those of the firefighters.

"Anytime somebody sets a fire, they have no regard for human life because you never know what's going to happen with a fire. It's an uncontrollable animal, it does what it pleases," explained Davis, who added many of the cases are showing signs of a more "sophisticated manner."

"We've had a number of apartment complex arsons, unfortunately," said the Battalion Chief, explaining one instance where a tenant returned to his apartment, after being evicted, to start a fire. "We have now charged him with going back later in the day and throwing a fire bomb into that building, as well, and it was occupied."

Some of these cases have resulted in arrests, including at least two people that were arrested for fires set along Hill Rise Drive. Other tenants were also charged with setting their apartments on fire at other places around Lexington.

While this year is not over, Davis and the rest of the Lexington Fire Department are committed to knocking out this dangerous trend.

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