Monday, June 17, 2024
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Baxter Fire Investigator Elected To State Board Combating Arson

A Baxter Fire Lieutenant and Investigator has been elected to the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Advisory Committee on Arson.

Investigator Zachary Womack said TACA uses a lot of effort to provide low cost arson training for volunteer fire departments in rural areas. Womack said the lack of resources in the community can lead to arson.

“You can see as the economy changes, as people start to struggle with things,” Womack said. “That those cases will go up some.”

Womack said that recently, arson was prevalent during the 2008 recession, as people were foreclosed on and did not want to give their belongings back to banks. Womack said with most evidence being destroyed in a fire, investigators have to look elsewhere.

“We rely on witness statements, we do work with the insurance companies to look at that persons coverage,” Womack said. “To see what their policy says, how old it is. Of course the insurance company can look and see what the person has claimed on there, the costs to see if there’s anything that just seems… what I would say is wonky.”

Womack said that while arson is often a crime based in finances, it is still a violent crime. He said arson can also be a way for a criminal to cover up a separate crime.

“The same as someone uses a gun or knife for murder.” Womack said. “The arsonist just uses fire as his weapon. It is a violent crime.”

Womack said with investigations relying on outside information to be proven, the Tennessee Arson Hotline is a key resource to arrest. He said anyone who has information about a fire that might have a criminal element are urged to call the hotline at 1-800-762-3017.