LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Officials at Forest Place Apartments are now offering a $35,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who commits arson on their property.
The apartment complex, which has experienced seven fires in the last 4 months, issued the following news release on Friday afternoon, one day after the most recent fire:
Since February of this year, there have been several suspicious fires at the Forest Place Apartment Complex in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the most recent occurring on June 28, 2013 and the first fire occurring on February 24. The most recent incident occurred when furniture cushions caught fire in a corridor of the complex’s South Building.
The most severe fire occurred on May 16, 2013 and resulted in significant damage to the property, including fire damage to 39 units and smoke and water damage to an additional 18 units. The residents of the 57 units affected were released from their leases and given back their deposits.
Forest Place has been working with the Little Rock Fire Department, the Little Rock Police Department, the Arkansas State Police, and the ATF in their investigation of the cause of the fires that have occurred at the apartment complex. While the preliminary investigation of the earlier fires indicated that the fires may have been the result of residents placing fireplace ashes and/or cigarettes in the trash chute without ensuring that the ashes were properly extinguished, it is now suspected that some or all of the fires could be the result of criminal activity. Authorities, however, are continuing to investigate and a final determination as to the cause of the fires has not yet been made.
Since the first fire occurrence in February of this year, Forest Place has proactively taken steps to prevent future fires, to cooperate with authorities in their efforts to determine the cause of the fires that have occurred, and to enhance the safety and security of its residents.
“We are actively engaging in steps to both determine the cause or causes of the fires experienced this year and to do everything we can to both prevent fires from occurring and to put systems and equipment in place to protect our residents when and if fires do occur,” says Michael McRobert, President of Maxus Properties, Inc.
Included in the steps taken in response to the fire occurrences at the apartment complex are: (1) installation of new access control systems and code-access door locks; (2) retention of security personnel, including off-duty Little Rock Police Officers; (3) maintaining a Fire Watch that includes 24-hour a day monitoring of the property by uniformed personnel; (4) holding of two resident meetings in which Captain McCann of the Little Rock Fire Department gave a seminar regarding fire safety and evacuation; and (5) temporarily closing the trash chutes and removing the dumpsters where the bulk of the fires have originated. Forest Place is also in the process of installing temporary security cameras until such time as a permanent security camera system can be installed.
In addition to the additional security measures, Forest Place also began design toward construction on upgrades to its fire suppression and alarm system in April of 2013. It is also in the process of designing a new fire alarm and sprinkler system and anticipates that construction of this system will begin in August of this year.
“While we believe we have made significant efforts to protect our residents, we understand and sympathize with the concerns of our residents and our heart goes out to all of them who have been affected by this string of what appears to be fires caused by criminal activity, including those who have been displaced or suffered loss as a result of the fires that have occurred,” says McRobert.
“We want to ensure our residents that we will continue to do everything we can to assist the authorities in determining the cause of the fires that have occurred and prevent future fires from occurring,” says McRobert. “We will also continue to be diligent in our efforts to ensure that the residents of the complex can feel safe and secure, as their wellbeing is a top priority at Forest Place and we want to do everything we reasonably can to allow them to enjoy all the benefits we believe the Forest Place apartment complex has to offer.”
To this end, Forest Place is offering a $35,000.00 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of a perpetrator of arson on its property.