Though local fire officials have returned to the sites of small grass fires in the hopes of learning clues as to the identity of an arsonist, they may need the help of residents in preventing further fires.
Utah County Fire Marshal Tom Wroe said his office is continuing an arson investigation on a set of small fires that occurred in the general vicinity of 4000 W. Harbor Parkway Tuesday and Wednesday nights.Crews from the Provo Fire Department were called out at approximately 8 p.m. on both nights to respond to small grass fires - four separate sets of fires on Tuesday night and one set on Wednesday.
Wroe said damp conditions last week not only slowed down the arsonist but also prevented investigators from fully inspecting a set of small grass fires set near Utah Lake.
He said that investigators fear this arsonist may be the same one responsible for similar fires last year and that without help from the public, arsonists are usually difficult to catch.
Wroe said he and other officials hope they can educate the public on the dangers arson poses as well as rely on the public to help out the investigation.
For example, he said, citizens should notify officials when individuals and vehicles linger in certain fire-prone areas.
"There are only so many leads you can get unless an arsonist gets sloppy. They are very difficult to catch, and sometimes you've got to get help from other areas. That's what we're hoping for here."
He said in previous years, U.S. Forest Service officials have helped out with fire investigations because of the damage blazes cause to the watershed.
"We've seen what fires like those in Alpine and Mapleton can cause, like in the way of mudslides that damage property and ruin lives, not to mention the damage they cause to the beauty of the Wasatch Front."
Additionally, the cost to taxpayers is tremendous in the terms of investigations and firefighting responses, he said. "One weekend last year alone cost us $2,000, and along with the Forest Service, many of us put in volunteer hours on projects such as surveillance."