Arson Plea

A former volunteer fireman in Augusta County has pleaded guilty to nine counts of arson, including a blaze set in January that destroyed seven unoccupied motor homes.

Twenty-year-old Joey Lambert Junior of Waynesboro pleaded guilty Monday in Augusta County Circuit Court. He pleaded guilty to three other charges in September, in Waynesboro.

An accomplice, 25-year-old Michael Tong of Fishersville, was convicted of ten counts of arson and several other charges.

Both men are former members of the Dooms Volunteer Fire Company. Authorities arrested the pair in June after a 10-month investigation by Virginia State Police into a series of fires in trash bins and abandoned buildings in and around Waynesboro.

Prosecutors say Lambert and Tong set the fires because they wanted the Dooms Fire Company to respond.

Lambert's attorney said the pair only targeted vacant structures for destruction.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) Extended Web Coverage

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 two 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: contributed to this report

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