Increased fires, arson in winter


Topeka (KSNT) – The Topeka Fire Department says two fires that broke out Monday night were intentionally set.

The fires were set about a block away from each other in the 13-hundred blocks of 16th and 17th streets. The second fire was discovered while crews were battling the first one.

“Arson, like all other crime, is a crime of opportunity and we need to limit our vulnerability,” says Topeka fire investigator, Rusty Vollintine.

In this case, both of the intentionally set fires were in vacant houses. With the cold weather, arson is something the Fire Department says they see every year, and expect to see more in the months ahead. The neighbors weren’t surprised either, as they’ve seen people sneaking into the empty houses before.
Jonathan Pfannenstiel, who lives down the street, says, “We’re moving out of the neighborhood due to this. Recently we’ve been seeing cop cars flying by here; things happening in the neighborhood.”

Though two fires in one night was a scare to the neighborhood, the Topeka Fire Department says you can take preventative measures, especially if you have vacant houses nearby.

“Make sure that those [vacant] buildings are secure. If they aren’t, we need to contact the city and let them know that they need to secure those properties. If you see people coming and going, then contact the police department and tell them those people aren’t supposed to be there,” says Vollintine.

Vollintine encourages you to keep an eye on your own home and the surrounding properties as well.

“Arson is not a victim-less crime. We pay for it in lost property. We pay for it in higher insurance rates, and we extremely pay for it in loss of life,” says Vollintine.

The Topeka Fire Department says they see an increase in fires in general over the winter. They encourage everyone to have their furnace inspected, be careful when using space heaters, and install smoke alarms.

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