Fire Marshal’s Office, US CISA warn of fire as weapon threat

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Fire Marshal’s Office and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency are trying to make the public more aware of the threat of people using fire as a weapon.

Both agencies released a Fire as a Weapon Guide, which describes people using fire as a weapon as setting fires or firebombs to hurt people and property.

Bill Ryan, CISA’s regional director for Region 3, said domestic and international authorities are reporting increased cases of fire being used as a weapon, primarily arson and the use of improvised incendiary devices.

“We do see an uptick in that,” he said.

Potential indicators of using fire as a weapon include a reported theft of a large vehicle, suspicious questioning of building floor plans, damaged fire protection systems, unattended items like backpacks, and social media posts promoting using fire as a weapon.

“Obviously, there are a bunch of different tactics and techniques out there that people will use wishing to do harm,” Ryan said. “We try to get as much guidance out there as possible.

State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree connected the report to other issues being reported across the country.

“As we observe the contention and unrest across the county, I think it is important for first responders and citizens alike to be ever vigilant in the fight against all preventable fires, especially arson-related fires,” he said.

Ryan said facilities should also have plans with local law enforcement agencies to ensure people can be treated in the event of an emergency.

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