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Iowa Department of Public Safety
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Des Moines, Iowa 50319
www.dps.state.ia.us

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
May 5, 2016

amurphy@dps.state.ia.us
(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office

May 1-7 is Arson Awareness Week

DES MOINES, Iowa – This week marks National Arson Awareness Week and the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) State Fire Marshal Division (SFM) would like Iowans to take a closer look at some unsolved arson fires in our state.

Last week Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation proclaiming May 1-7, 2016, as Arson Awareness
Week in Iowa.  Picture of signing event.

In 2015, the Iowa DPS’s State Fire Marshal Division determined over 36-percent of all fires the Division investigated in the state were determined to be arson. Nearly $2.5 million in estimated property damage was lost as a result of those fires.

Learn more about National Arson Awareness Week and prevention tips here.

The following are unsolved arson fires in the state:

RED OAK, IOWA -- A fire occurred on Monday September 16, 1997 at approximately 11:14PM. The original 911 call came from a resident in the apartments. The second 911 call came from a bartender at Kinsley bar across the street. The fire resulted in the death of 87 year old Evelyn Mae Resh. Resh was found deceased in the bathroom of her apartment. The owners of the building were Lincoln and Marlena Morse and Bill and Sherry Bourlon. The conclusion of the investigation was that the fire was determined to be arson with fires set at two separate and distinct locations inside the building. Suspects were identified during the investigation, but there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone at that time. Anyone with information concerning this case is asked to contact State Fire Marshal Division Special Agent John Ticer at (712) 308-3977.
                                                    
COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA -- On September 10, 2013 a fire occurred at 2720 Ave. A in Council Bluffs, IA. During the investigation, racial and sexual slurs were found spray painted throughout the house. There were no signs of forced entry into the home. An accelerant canine was used during the investigation of the fire and alerted to two areas in the main bedroom of the house. The fire was determined to be arson. There were no injuries in this fire. Anyone with any information concerning these fires or any other fires in the Council Bluffs area is asked to call Fire Investigator Dan Roberts, Council Bluffs Fire Marshal’s Office 712-256-6953.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- On January 16, 2015 a fire occurred at 2929 Ave. G Council Bluffs, IA. Gasoline was found poured throughout this residence and then lit on fire. Anyone with any information concerning these fires or any other fires in the Council Bluffs area is asked to call Fire Investigator Dan Roberts, Council Bluffs Fire Marshal’s Office 712-256-6953.

SIOUX CENTER, IOWA -- A series of fires occurred in Sioux Center in 2015 in which the State Fire Marshal Division (SFM) assisted. Three fires occurred on July 10, 2015. The first fire occurred at approximately 12:43AM that destroyed a one-story wood-framed detached garage located at 446 1st Street East. The second fire occurred at approximately 9:34PM on July 10, 2015 and consumed most of a rubbish pile located at the Co-Op Gas and Oil facility at 3rd Ave, SW. The pile consisted mostly of tire inner-tubes, tires and a wood pallet. The third fire occurred at approximately 11:34PM on the July 10, 2015. The fire caused damage to a two-story wood framed barn/garage located next to a single family home at 347 3rd Ave. NE. Another fire occurred on Thursday, November 5, 2015 at approximately 4:5PM. The fire involved a two-story wood framed home referred to as a Heritage House, which was located at the County Fair Grounds and used as a museum. Anyone with information concerning this case is asked to contact State Fire Marshal Division Special Agent John Ticer at (712) 308-3977.

MOUNT VERNON, Iowa – The Mount Vernon Police Department and the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) State Fire Marshal Division (SFM) announced an up to $10,000 reward by West Bend Insurance for any information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for an incendiary fire at a bowling alley in in Mount Vernon. On August 9, 2015, sixteen different departments responded to a large structure fire at the Don Mar Lanes, a bowling alley at 520 1st Street East in Mount Vernon. The building was a complete loss. Through investigation by the DPS’s State Fire Marshal Division, it was determined that the fire was likely intentionally set and is considered suspicious in nature. Anyone with any information pertaining to this fire is asked to call the Linn County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-CS-CRIME (1-800-272-7463) or send a text to CRIMES (274637) and include “5227” in the body of the message, along with your tip. You may choose to remain anonymous.

Note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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