The Temple Fire Department has determined that 24 fires which occurred in the city within the past year were intentionally set.
According to Temple Fire Public Information Officer Thomas Pechal, 22 of them happened at vacant residences in the process of being remodeled. The other two involved vehicles.
He said 11 of those cases have already been closed because an arrest was made or because the case is pending at the Bell County District Attorney's Office. 13 of those cases are still open.
"It's not that you can say it's happening in a specific neighborhood or geographic area. It's happening throughout the city," Pechal said.
"We're concerned anytime there is a fire. A fire plays no favorites. It can destroy your material possessions, it can take a life, it can injure someone. So, from the fire service, we are concerned about this," Pechal said.
According to Pechal, 5 percent of the nation's fires are set intentionally, Temple is currently at 16 percent.
Of the two most recent fires, one happened on Thursday in the 1200 block of South 10th Street at a vacant house that was in the process of being remodeled. The other fire occurred on Monday at a house in the 1100 block of South Martin Luther King Dr. There were six people in the house at the time. They were all able to escape safely.
Pechal recommends that residents take some steps to keep their property safe.
"They should keep the area tidy by mowing the grass, making sure they remove trash from the property, give it a lived in look. The other thing they can do is remove all sources of ignition, any flammable liquids, any unused gas cans," Pechal said.
If you have any information on these fires, contact the Fire Marshal's Office tip line at 254-298-5955. You could receive a $500 reward if the information leads to an arrest and conviction of someone setting fires within the city limits.
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