Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Camden Unites to Snuff Arsons

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Camden Unites to Snuff Arsons

Article excerpt

KINGSLAND -- Fire experts say arson is one of the most difficult

crimes to prosecute because much of the evidence goes up in

smoke.

And in smaller municipalities, arson is even more difficult to

prosecute because of the lack of trained experts to investigate

the crime.

But Camden County officials said yesterday they are concerned

enough to pool their resources with other law enforcement

agencies in the county to investigate suspicious fires after a

recent rash of church arsons in the Southeast and several arsons

dating from January 1995, in the Browntown area of south Camden

County.

A 14-year-old was arrested and charged in the Browntown arsons

in February, authorities said.

Don Towne, a Camden County Fire and Rescue Department captain,

said his agency will work with the Camden County Sheriff's

Office, St. Marys Police Department and the Camden County

District Attorney's Office as part of a newly created arson task

force.

Investigators from St. Marys, for example, may be called to

assist a suspected arson in an unincorporated area of Camden

County, task force members said. Organizers also plan to invite

the cities of Kingsland and Woodbine to join their group.

"This team will work hard to determine the cause of suspicious

fires in Camden County," Towne said. "We feel this will be a

strong deterrent to arson fires in Camden County."

In Jacksonville, the city's Arson Task Force, formed in 1994,

consists of investigators from the fire department, the

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the federal Bureau of Alcohol,

Tobacco and Firearms, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement

and Naval Investigative Services.

Besides investigating suspicious fires, Towne said Camden task

force members would create programs to deter youths from

starting fires and contact churches on how to avoid arson. …

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