CALIFORNIA, (KTXL) — Since 2016, CAL FIRE has seen a continuous increase in arson arrests and based on current numbers it appears that 2022 will continue that trend.

So FOX40 reached out to CAL FIRE Law Enforcement Staff Chief Gianni Muschetto to see why there are more arson arrests every year and what it means for California’s ever-growing wildfire season.

CAL FIRE Law Enforcement arson arrests by the numbers:

  • 2021: 149 (103 related to wildland fires)
  • 2020: 120
  • 2019: 70
  • 2018: 61
  • 2017: 86
  • 2016: 73

As of May 31, 2022 there have been 69 arson arrests with 42 related to wildland fires and Muschetto said that there will be an increase in total arson arrests from 2021.

These arrests occur year-round Muschetto said, but CAL FIRE does see an increase in wildland arsons arrests when conditions are the driest.

“Arson caused fires continues to account for approximately 10% of wildland fires annually,” Muschetto said. “So as for the total increase, arson caused fires will increase accordingly, even though the average remains fairly consistent.”

With these continued increases in arrests CAL FIRE officers are patrolling areas known for arson fires or where suspicious activity has been seen to occur, according to Muschetto.

“CAL FIRE has continued to quickly and aggressively investigate all fires and ensure our law enforcement officers respond when available,” Muschetto said. “This has allowed us to identify arson caused fires and suspects and take quick action to prevent further arson fires.”

“An increase in surveillance cameras at residences and in rural areas as well as a vigilant public has assisted in identifying suspects as well,” Muschetto continued.

These arrests not only help with reducing the number of arsonists for the next fire season but also deter potential future arsonists, according to Muschetto said.

“These arrests are important because they immediately stop the threat of additional fires being started in the current fire season,” Muschetto said. “Additionally, others that may commit arson, may be deterred because they see that fires are investigated and arrests made for arson.”

Those charged with arson are also required to be registered in the California Arson Registry through their local law enforcement agency, according to Muschetto.

 CAL FIRE does have an arson hotline at 1-800-468-4408 for the public to call into if they witness an arson or are suspicious of someone starting an arson.