Middletown’s Arson Task Force seeing results

This detached garage in the 900 block of Malvern Street was destroyed by an arson fire Sunday afternoon, fire officials said. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
This detached garage in the 900 block of Malvern Street was destroyed by an arson fire Sunday afternoon, fire officials said. CONTRIBUTED

The Arson Task Force, a combined effort of the Middletown police and fire departments and Monroe firefighters, continues to make arrests.

Last year, of the 37 Middletown fires that were intentionally set, 46 percent either led to arrests or were solved, said Jeff Spaulding, deputy fire chief. The national average is about 10 percent, he said.

Spaulding called the task force “very effective” because detectives and fire investigators share their knowledge, skills and training.

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Working together puts “the right people at the right place” quickly, Spaulding said.

Middletown Police Lt. Jimmy Cunningham said there are 20 members on the team who have been cross-trained. He said police officers were trained to better understand how fires were set, while firefighters were taught about criminal justice.

“We work great together,” Cunningham said.

The team, founded in 2015 because of the number of arsons in the city, is comprised of 13 Middletown firefighters, five police officers and two Monroe firefighters.

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The most recent arrest occurred after a fire to a detached garage in the 900 block of Malvern Street was determined to be intentionally set.

Ethan Short, 20, of Middletown, was charged with arson for allegedly using an accelerant to start the fire that caused $10,000 in damages, Spaulding said.

Spaulding said the garage was destroyed during the fire. He said only a few items were stored in the garage.

One person near the fire was treated for minor injuries at Atrium Medical Center, according to Spaulding.

Short was arraigned last week and released on his own recognizance. He will appear for his pre-trial hearing Nov. 1 in Middletown Municipal Court, according to court records.

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