SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Police and fire agencies are getting closer to establishing the Greene County Arson Task Force.
The Springfield Fire Department is dealing with an arson rate 11 percent higher than the national average. Arsons account for about 30 percent per 100,000 members of the population.
While police have increased their arrest rate for arson, they want this task force to be a point of collaboration for arson investigations and other large fires.
"It will throw more resources toward those," says Fire Marshal Bill Spence. "Large fires demand a large amount of staff to work them as far as investigation. Every fire department in Greene County has been a part of it. A lot of the law enforcement agencies."
Part of the charge of the task force will be investigation of arson fires. The department says between 2006 and 2012, there were 467 intentionally-set fires in Springfield. Those fires resulted in three deaths and more than $5 million in property damage.
In the last two weeks, there was an arson fire on N. Texas Avenue and now E. Elm Street.
"It's designed not just to work on arson cases or incendiary fire," adds Spence. "It's designed to help investigate any kind of fire."
The task force will look at fires criminal in nature or just large in size, like big buildings or apartment complexes.
"There's just a lot more to be done on investigations and it requires more people."
The task force will be finding the cause and origin of the fire. It will also allow agencies to share information.
"They may do the same thing out in the county or they move their operation out there."
The Springfield Fire Department says in 2006 and 2007 it was only gaining arrests in about 22 percent of cases. In the past two years, the department has averaged a 42 percent arrest rate.