Luray Fires

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

Unfortunately, not much can be said yet. The fires are still under investigation and officials still suspect an arsonist. They've become more aggressive now that lives have been threatened.

"Words can't express what I went through and I'm just glad to be alive,” says Andrea Allen. Her life has completely changed in the last two weeks. After jumping 25 feet from the third story of a flaming building, she was flown to UVA Medical Center for a seriously fractured ankle and third degree burns. Allen lost her cat, car, and all her possessions. Allen's boyfriend and dog somehow managed to escape. Allen says, "I feel like I've been given a second chance."

The Campbell Street apartments caught fire two Sundays ago. Just minutes before, a fire started at a rental house on Bristol Avenue. That building stands just fifty feet from a shed that had burned the week before. All three structures are just around the corner from the Luray Fire Department

Luray Fire Chief Dan Seal says, "I hope they're not taunting us, but they could be. We'll catch them." Seal says he's never seen anything like this before. There have been 10 in the past month. Starting with an Oct. 5 fire at a historic carriage house on West Main Street. Two days later, a suspicious fire burns in a vacant apartment on West Page Street. Nearly a week later, a third fire is linked to the two previous. The first injury occurred at the Nov. 3 fire which hospitalized Allen. She says, "It's totally changed my life."

The investigation is ongoing and fire officials feel confident they will find those responsible.

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Arson Facts

  • Arson is the second leading cause of death by fire in the United States, exceeded only by losses due to smoking.

  • Arson is the leading cause of property damage due to fires.

  • One of every four fires that occur in the U.S. each year, about a half million, are arson.

  • Each year, more than 90 percent of all civilian deaths in incendiary and suspicious structure fires occur in residential properties.

  • Direct property damage from arson totals more than $3 billion in a typical year. One out of every four dollars lost to fire is the result of arson.

  • Only 16 percent of arson offenses lead to arrest, and only 2 percent of those arrested are convicted.

  • Preliminary results of a new study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggest that between one-fifth to one-fourth of reported arson cases in major American cities are drug-related.

  • Arson is the leading cause of fire in houses of worship, accounting for 25 percent of church and related property fires.

  • 53 percent of all arsons are set by youths under age 18.

Source: www.usfa.fema.gov contributed to this report


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