Sniffing out arsonists

Sniffing out arsonists

9 January 2008

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USA — The Fire Museum of Texas and The Beaumont Fire Department have teamed up with Texas Forest Service prevention specialists to promote wildfire awareness and deliver fire safety messages keyed to local fire causes.

“Living on the Edge” will open as a new exhibit to the Fire Museum in downtown Beaumont on Jan. 10. The exhibit is designed to help educate, prevent, mitigate and efficiently suppress wildland fires.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception at the Fire Museum of Texas located at 400 Walnut Street from 3:30 to 6 p.m.

The opening will feature special guest Smokey Bear, mascot of the Forest Service and Little Arson Annie, the newest member to the Forestry Service Team. “Annie,” a 9-month old bloodhound handled by Ranger Kevin Pierce, is the first Arson Canine in Texas Forest Service history.

Courtesy Photo Little Arson Annie, handled by Ranger Kevin Pierce, is the first Arson Canine in Texas Forest Service history.”With Annie, you’re in deep trouble if you’re an arsonist in Texas,” said James Hull, Director and State Forester. “She is already tracking and will soon be ready to start pursuing those who set fires in order to harm the public and their property.” “Annie is a quick study, and we believe she will be ready to go soon,” said Gary Bennett, Chief Law Enforcement Officer for Texas Forest Service. “With the current fire danger situation, she is a welcome addition to our arson fighting team.”

The traveling exhibit will be intro- duced by Texas Forest Service personnel to spread the message of “defensible space” and “fire wise” practices to those living in the urban wild land interface.

The exhibit will remain at the Fire Museum of Texas. Museum hours are 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with no admission charge.

“Even populated areas are at risk of wildfires,” said Carol Gary, executive director of the Fire Museum of Texas. “As the population and development grows many homes, subdivisions, and businesses lie within or near areas of undeveloped grass, brush and forests.”

People and their activities cause more than 90 percent of all wildfires in the state. Careless debris burning (of household trash, brush and leaf piles, etc) results in the largest number of human caused wildfires. Other significant wildfire causes include sparks from welding and grinding equipment, carelessly discarded smoking materials, hot vehicle pollution and arson.

“Bringing this exhibit to the Fire Museum helps public awareness and calls attention to prevention activities that reduce risks to citizens and property,” added Gary.

For more information on the Texas Forest Service and steps to protect your home from Wildland Fire visit Some information in this story came from the Texas Forest Service web site.

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