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ISSUE 119 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/28/2005

Arson plagues year

By Jean Mullins
Executive Editor

Friday, October 28, 2005

Two dumpsters were set on fire early Friday between approximately 2:45 a.m. and 3 a.m.

There was a significant fire in the dumpster behind Mohn Hall, and Public Safety worked to contain the fire until the Northfield Fire Department arrived on the scene.

After the arrival of the Fire Department, a smaller fire was discovered in a dumpster behind Thorson Hall.

Public Safety was able to contain this fire using a handheld fire extinguisher without the assistance of the fire department.

The Mohn dumpster sustained significant damage.

"I'm thinking it had been burning for while," Fred Behr, director of Public Safety, said. The Thorson dumpster was not significantly damaged.

As of Monday, Behr said there were no leads on the perpetrator of the crimes.

Behr said that there was no accelerant, such as kerosene, used to start the fires. Whether the arsonist or arsonists are students is only speculation at this point.

These fires mark the fifth and sixth fires since Jan. 1 (Public Safety keeps records by calendar year, not academic year), five of which have been dumpster fires, according to Behr.

One reported incident in March was only the attempted arson of a portable toilet. Public Safety found only some kindling and evidence of scorching, but there was no damage done to the portable toilet.

In April, arson of a dumpster was reported.

A second and third arson were reported on May 24. One incident was a small flame in a dumpster by Skoglund Athletic Center, which was already out by the time Public Safety responded.

Behr points out that this fire could easily have been started by a cigarette.

The second fire on that day was set in dumpster near Hoyme Hall.

Behr said that the dumpster may have had a considerable amount of cardboard in it, and the dumpster was significantly charred, with damage similar to that done to the Mohn dumpster on Friday.

According to Behr, six arsons over the course of a year is an unusually high number.

While two and three incidents of arson were reported in 2001 and 2002, respectively, none were reported in 2003 and 2004.

"This year is double what we had in our highest year," Behr said.

Behr said that Public safety is still hoping for tips on the most recent fires and have increased public safety patrols around dumpsters.

As of now, Public Safety has no more reason than before the arson incidents to suspect more incidents of arson will happen.

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