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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

Headquarters

For Immediate Release

Monday, September 26, 2016
Contact: ATF Public Affairs Division

Bomb Data Center Releases 2015 Arson Incident Report

1st Yearly Statistical Capture of Arson Incidents Publicly Released

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today announced the release of the 2015 Arson Incident Report. All 2015 arson data was retrieved from the United States Bomb Data Center (USBDC) through the Bomb Arson Tracking System (BATS). This is the first time this report has been released to the public. 
 
The report reflects the total number of fire incidents categorized as Incendiary (Arson), Undetermined, Accidental and Natural causes which were reported into BATS for calendar year 2015 by its 11,478 active users. It is estimated only about 17 percent of suspected arson fires are entered into BATS by law enforcement and public safety officials. The USBDC is proactively recruiting agencies to use BATS and enter all suspected arson data to increase the regional and national situational awareness necessary to better detect, deter and prevent future criminal and terrorist acts.
 
From Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2015, BATS captured a total of 21,502 fire-related incidents. Of the 21,502 fires reported in BATS, 33 percent were listed as arson. The total amount of damages were estimated at more than $996 million. There were 570 fatalities and 1,677 injuries associated with the reported arson. Residential was identified as the most targeted property type for arson. 
 
Florida was the state reporting the highest number of arson incidents followed by Texas, and California. These states accounted for more than 33 percent of the total arson fires reported in BATS during 2015.
 
There are currently nine types of motivation available for selection within BATS for an arson. The top three types of known motivation selected for the arson fires were revenge, vandalism and other.
 
About 37 percent of the arson fires occurred predominantly in darkness from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. A review of the day of the week and month that arsons occurred did not show any significant variation.  
 
In 2015, BATS captured a total of 261 fire-related incidents involving a house of worship (HOW). Of the 261 HOW fires, 122 were listed in BATS as arson, 53 as accidental and two as natural. There were also 84 fires listed as undetermined. 
 
 
ATF is the primary, federal law enforcement agency leading arson investigations and solving the violent crimes that destroy life and hundreds of millions of dollars of property annually. Arson investigations have been an integral part of ATF’s mission since the passage of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970.
 
The Anti-Arson Act of 1982 enables the federal government to prosecute those who use fire to destroy property involved in interstate commerce (18 U.S.C. 844(i)) or who use fire to commit any federal felony such as mail fraud or wire fraud (18 U.S.C. 844(h) (1)); and the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996, grants federal prosecutors greater power in pursuing burnings and desecrations at houses of worship.
  
For more information about ATF and its programs visit www.atf.gov, follow ATF on Twitter @ATFHQ or like us on Facebook.
 
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