The Las Cruces Fire Department seeks help in identifying the person or persons responsible for setting fire to, or near, several large trash receptacles in the downtown area earlier this week.
Between the hours of 1 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday, May 2, Las Cruces firefighters responded to and extinguished 11 trash bin or brush fires. The fires were located at different downtown locations including Main Street, Water Street, Delano Drive and Mesquite Street. Fire investigators believe the fires were intentionally set.
Ironically, May 1 to May 7 is Arson Awareness Week.
Las Cruces-Dona Ana County Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward up to $1,000 for information that helps identify the person or persons responsible for setting fires in downtown Las Cruces. Tips can be provided anonymously by calling Las Cruces Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Tips can also be provided through the Las Cruces Crime Stoppers app, “P3 TIPS.” The app is available through the App Store on most devices.
Each year, for Arson Awareness Week, the U.S. Fire Administration shares information to raise awareness of arson and help provide fire services and residents strategies to combat the issue. This year’s theme is Arson in Homeless Communities: Engagement, Education and Outreach.
Buildings and homes can become vacant or abandoned for a multitude of reasons, including being destroyed in a disaster, foreclosure, failed business or disinvestment by the owners. Unfortunately, these structures attract illicit activity such as drug use, vandalism and prostitution. Abandoned property is the most striking indication of neighborhood decline. Large-scale abandonment threatens the stability of neighborhoods and undermines the value of investments made by other property owners.
There are actions businesses or homeowners can take to reduce the negative impact and blight associated with unsecured vacant and abandoned buildings and help keep firefighters and other first responders safe.
- Monitor all vacant properties. Properties that are secure and well-maintained, even though they are unoccupied, are usually not a problem. Those that have no viable owner and are unsecured and accessible to unauthorized entry require immediate attention to prevent fires and criminal activity.
- Prevent unauthorized access to vacant and abandoned buildings either by proper security or high visibility surveillance. Unsecured vacant or abandoned buildings are intrinsically more dangerous than occupied structures. More than 72 percent of all fires in vacant or abandoned buildings are of incendiary or suspicious origin. Once secured, the building must be patrolled with some frequency to make sure it remains secure.
Inspect and evaluate vacant or abandoned buildings to identify potential safety issues that first responders might face if they respond to a fire or other emergency. Persons entering to inspect vacant or abandoned buildings should use extreme caution when entering and moving throughout these structures. Potential hazards to first responders can include fall and trip hazards; hazardous materials on property; ongoing criminal activity; standing water in basements; vermin; unauthorized occupants; and unstable structure.