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Archive for Saturday, November 4, 2006

Pure cowardice

Anyone who sets fires of any kind, particularly those that endanger innocent lives, should be punished as harshly as possible.

November 4, 2006

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Is there a more cowardly crime than arson? Experienced law enforcement and firefighter groups are likely to respond "no."

Consider what an arsonist can do with such ease, speed and devastating results. For a prime example, we can look to Southern California where a fifth U.S. Forest Service firefighter has died of burns suffered when his crew was overrun by a wildfire that is blamed on arson. The forest region has been ripped by flames for days, and the environment, including many homes and businesses of innocent people, has been wiped out.

Then we get news from Phoenix that the former commander of an elite firefighting team has pleaded guilty to starting a fire in a precious national forest. He says he does not know why he did it. He torched an area of the Coconino National Forest in 2004 and then left, knowing full well the blaze would proliferate. The fire near Flagstaff burned about 21 valuable acres.

Some arsonists say they start fires just to watch something burn. Others have anti-social feelings and want others to suffer the same kinds of grief they feel. There are those, too, who just want to harm people.

Not long ago, Lawrence was hit hard by an arson fire that killed three people and injured others, along with destroying a large apartment building. The young man who faces charges in the fire reportedly admitted to setting other fires, but the motive for his actions isn't clear.

Just think how simple it can be for a disturbed person or someone with selfish motives to victimize people and put themselves and their belongings in grave jeopardy. Year after year, many such crimes are never solved. Lawrence still has some on the books.

Setting a fire that results in someone's death is no different from shooting someone with a gun or being involved in a deadly traffic accident while operating a motor vehicle in an impaired state. All should be penalized to the fullest extent of the law.

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