EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – The Evansville Fire Department (EFD) is promoting National Arson Awareness Week from May 1 – 7. Evansville recorded over $1.2 million dollars in property damage due to arson fires.

The Fire Marshal’s Office warns that arsonist has different motives that include crime concealment, curiosity, excitement, fraud and vandalism. The best strategy to use against arsonist is to take away the opportunity for the arsonist to attack.

Here are some tips from the EFD on what people can do to protect their property from arsonist:

  • Install lights that cover all sides of the house. Inexpensive motion-activated lighting should be placed near the entrances. Interior lights on timers give the illusion of an occupied residence.
  • Combustibles and flammable plants should be kept at least five feet away from exterior walls. Excess vegetation and piles of leaves should be removed.
  • Keep the area around the house and garage clean. Remove unused and unneeded paper, trash, cleaning supplies, partial cans of paint and other materials that could become kindling or fuel for a fire for an arsonist to use.
  • Trim or remove shrubbery that blocks the view of the house from the street. Bushes and trees may need to be trimmed frequently.
  • Keep doors and windows locked. All external doors should be equipped with deadbolts. A simple locked door could be the reason that saves a house from arson. The hardware used to lock windows can sometimes be easily forced open. The best type of window hardware has spring-loaded bolts that insert through the window frame into the wall frame.
  • Secure abandoned and vacant homes. This may include adding additional locks or boarding up broken windows or other opening with plywood.
  • Remove abandoned vehicles. Most car fires are started to cover up other criminal activity or an act of vandalism.
  • Install burglar and fire alarm systems or surveillance cameras.

More information can be found on the U.S. Fire Administration website at www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/arson-prevention/.