GREENVILLE — A recent fire in Greenville is prompting the city’s fire chief to remind residents of ways they can help prevent fires, accidental or deliberate.
Though there has been speculation in the community that the March 11 fire at 704 12th Street, which severely damaged the home, may have been intentionally set, Greenville Fire Department Chief Russ Thompson said the cause of the blaze remains undetermined.
“If we get further information that would give us a clear indication of what started that fire, we will pursue those, but the investigation up to this time, the [cause of] the fire is undetermined,” he said.
Whether a fire is an act of arson or the result of an accident, Chief Thompson said it is important for residents to take an active interest in helping prevent fire outbreaks.
“One of the most important things they can do is housekeeping,” he said. “So in addition to taking care of the inside of your home, is to take care of the outside. If there is trash and furniture, stuff like that, piled up in our backyards or up against buildings, that’s just an invitation for someone to take advantage of that.”
Vigilance is another important aspect of fire prevention, he said.
“It’s a matter of neighbors taking care of neighbors,” said Thompson. “It’s neighbors being vigilant to watch each others’ properties.”
Despite the frequent public perception that a “serial arsonist” is on the loose whenever a fire deemed “suspicious” occurs in town, Thompson says there is no pattern to the structure fires in Greenville over the past few years.
“If anyone takes the time to look at that, they happen at different hours and they go in spurts,” he explained. “Everyone thinks that we’re constantly having them, but if you really look at it, they’re really spread out.”
Thompson used a December garage fire as an example.
“Social media blew it up. That fire was 100 percent, clearly, accidental,” he said. “That seems to be the norm here lately — anytime there’s a fire, it’s got to be an arson. And it’s just not the case.”
In addition to neighbors being aware, Thompson suggests outdoor lighting can also be a deterrent to would-be fire setters.
“You’ve got night lights that you can put on a utility pole, or motion-activated flood lights, that you can buy relatively inexpensively at places like Lowe’s and Home Depot. It’s a deterrent, not a guarantee, but I think it does help,” he said.
Thompson said anyone observing suspicious behavior of any type should call 911.
“It’s the fastest way to get ahold of us,” he said.
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