HFD & HPD announce joint arson task force

Henderson and Vance County Fire Chief Danny Wilkerson and Henderson Police Chief Keith Sidwell announced at Monday’s meeting of the Henderson City Council the formation of a joint arson task force.

Wilkerson told members that seventeen suspicious structure fires occurred in Henderson in 2008. He also said that five such fires have occurred thus far in 2009.

The suspicious fires have added $12,000 in personnel costs and $3,000 in fuel costs to the city’s bottom line, Wilkerson told council members.

The structures where the fires have occurred have mostly been vacant, and most have occurred in the southern and northeastern parts of the city. Wilkerson characterized the fires occurred in vacant buildings as “obvious”, since no utilities were running which could account for the origins of the fires.

Sidwell told the council that the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) would also be working with the two public safety departments. He said that an upcoming meeting would concentrate on whether there were causative factors in the fires that could be connected.

Sidwell said the information would help determine if the fires have been started by one or two people or “a series of people”.

Member Mary Emma Evans asked if the fires were being started due to homelessness. Wilkerson responded that it could be a cause, but that it could also be juveniles who mischievous, domestic issues, or insurance fraud.