Arson Fires in Yakima Reduced Because of Prosecution - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Arson Fires in Yakima Reduced Because of Prosecution

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YAKIMA, Wash-- Arson is arguably one of the most malicious crimes out there, causing thousands of dollars in damage and often times personal injury. While the fire department is good at pinpointing the cause of fires prosecuting criminals is another matter.

"They needed some assistance once it was tipped to a criminal investigation. And that's where I came into play," said Jim Fuehrer, Assistant Fire Marshal.

"With the Yakima Police Department he was in major crimes and arson is a major crime so this was a natural fit," said Ron Melcher, Deputy Fire Marshal.

Since Fuehrer took the job as assistant fire marshal the collaboration has been successful.  Arson fires have been cut nearly in half since last year. From 98 in 2007 to 36 so far this year.

"This began as a two year pilot program ending June 1st 2008, they've entered into negotiations to extend it another five years," said Fuehrer

The reduction in arsons can be attributed to the tough prosecution by Fuehrer and the fire department. Arson in the first degree is considered a class "A" felony. But, Fueher doesn't bring the bad guys in on his own. 

Firefighters are now being trained to look deeper into the cause of the fire. "He also does a very good job training our guys what to look for," said Melcher.

The Yakima Fire Department appreciates help from the community. If you have any tips about recent arsons call 575-6140.