Everybody loses when wildland arsonists strike: consumers pay more for the thousands of products made from forest materials; taxpayers foot the bill for suppressing the fires; jobs are often eliminated when the resource is reduced; and families living in wooded areas often lose their homes and possessions.
In 1985, 200 homes were destroyed or damaged by wildfires, and many of these fires were due to the work of arsonists. More than half a million acres were burned, and 330 homes were destroyed or damaged, in 1998 alone. Of these fires, 1 in 5 was attributed to arson.
The Florida Forestry Arson Alert Association is a nonprofit organization formed in early 1986 that was created to be a vehicle for supplying information to the public about woods arson. The association also acquires funds and distributes rewards for information about incidents of this senseless crime. Anyone with information about a fire believed to be set by an arsonist should contact a Florida Forest Service field office or call 800-342-5869. Ask to speak to the district manager or fire investigator responsible for the area involved.
If the caller’s information leads to the apprehension of an arsonist, the district manager will recommend to the Forestry Arson Alert Association that a reward be paid. The minimum reward is $100, and the maximum reward is $5,000. If requested, the identity of the caller will be kept confidential.
Between 2006 and 2010, 316 wildfires were intentionally set by arsonists in Maine. In an effort to reduce this serious criminal activity which threatens the state’s vital natural resources, the Maine Forest Service, in cooperation with the Maine Federation of Firefighters and numerous other interested groups, established the Maine Wildland Arson Reward Program in 1996 with a rewards range from $250 to $1,000.
A number of organizations have already donated funds to kick off this important program, with many others expressing interest in supporting this wildfire prevention initiative. All reward contributions must come from sources other than the general fund of the state of Maine. All contributions are used for arson reward purposes only.
Forest fires are a problem everywhere, but in Missouri they are serious. The Missouri Department of Conservation reports that careless trash burners accidentally start 60 percent of the fires, and arsonists deliberately set 15 percent. Wildfires damage 30,000 to 90,000 acres of our forest each year. Local volunteer fire departments, the U.S. Forest Service, and conservation department personnel battle an average of 3,000 wildfires each year. The cost of wildfire detection and suppression by these agencies is a considerable burden on all taxpayers.
Concerned citizens in Missouri can remain anonymous while they help put an end to the arsonist’s selfish game. Operation Forest Arson provides a reliable method for citizens to call, report an arson violation, and collect a reward without anyone knowing who reported the crime by calling 800-392-1111. Rewards range from $200 to $1,000 for the arrest and conviction of an arsonist. A minimum reward of $100 will be paid for information that is helpful in apprehending or identifying a violator. A maximum of $1,000 can be paid for information about major violations and known repeat offenders.
Wildland arson is a crime that poses a serious threat to life and property across the state. In both rural and urban settings, preventing and stopping arsonists are important steps in protecting lives, minimizing property loss, and providing for firefighter safety.
The Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) offers rewards up to $10,000 from any tips that lead to a grand indictment. To report suspected wildland arson activity in Texas, call the TFS Arson Hotline – 800-364-3470.