Congrats to police, firefighters; beware all fire dangers
Shamokin residents are breathing a sigh of relief, as they should, with the arrest of a man police believe set an apartment building on fire Monday night.
While authorities aren't saying yet if the same man is a suspect in fires at neighboring buildings dating back to last year, there is at least some comfort after months of worry.
As has been proven beyond a doubt locally since last Thursday, however, the danger of fire is always present, whether it's accidental or arson.
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Not enough can be said about the dedication of local firefighters after a marathon of seven local responses that started Thursday and ended with three fires in less than 18 hours Monday.
The list of challenges is long for our volunteer units: training; time away from home and family; lost time and, in some cases, lost wages at work when responding to emergencies; risk of injury, not only from fighting fires, but from the ice that's inherent at fire scenes this time of year, and so much more.
All that said, the community appreciation and concern reaches a new level when the fires to which volunteers are responding have been intentionally set.
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Arson is responsible for approximately 25 percent of all fires, and more than 500,000 arson fires occur each year, according to officer.com. Arson is the most expensive crime in America, costing more than $2 billion a year in property loss, and, sadly, it claims more than 700 lives annually.
Arson is also a very difficult crime to solve, with only 15 percent of arson cases closed by arrest, the website reports.
Which leads to further congratulations, this for Shamokin police and those who assisted in arresting a suspect Monday night - literally while the fire he allegedly set was still smoldering. Timely, smart and aggressive police work sums up their actions.
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With an arrest made, perhaps residents, firefighters and police can get back to a sense of normalcy, Lord willing and if the sirens stay silent. Of course, that won't be the case for a long time for the recent fire victims. We wish them the best during this difficult time.
In the meantime, we can all do something to help local emergency responders by checking our smoke detector and carbon-monoxide detector batteries, and taking all other precautions to ensure our properties are safe from fire.