Connection between pyromania and brush fires?

  Connection between pyromania and brush fires?

1 May 2008

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USA — NBC2 wanted to know what kind of a person would ignite a fire on purpose. Is there a profile? And how big of a role do these so-called “pyromaniacs” play in Southwest Florida’s brush fire season? Our own Kate Eckman went searching for the answer.

It only takes a spark to ignite a brush fire – especially during these bone-dry conditions.

We went to a Fort Myers Fire Department training facility to see just how fast and easy a lit cigarette starts a fire. In less than two minutes, the smoldering smoke turns to bright, orange flames – flames that can spread rapidly.

“With the winds and the dry ground, it sparks embers and that of course turns into a fire,” said Paul Griffin of the Fort Myers Fire Department.

Firefighters say most fires are started by people – either intentionally or unintentionally.

“People get curious. Children play with matches, especially when school’s out. They get bored and want to experiment,” said Griffin.

Mike Weston, from the Division of Forestry, says people from all walks of life intentionally start fires. He says their behavior can be as erratic as the fires themselves.

“As people are in a little bit more despair, maybe they don’t have a job, more free time on their hands,” said Weston. “They want to see the response that goes along with it or they just want to see how the fire acts.”

Experts say pyromaniacs have an impulse to deliberately start fires to relieve tension and say they feel relief afterward. Many like to set fires just for the sake of it and the condition is fueled by the need to watch objects burn.

But whatever you want to call it, it’s costing you money and it’s costing firefighters precious time.

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