This is National Arson Awareness Week and the theme is prevention – in order to reduce the number of fires intentionally set at vacant and abandoned buildings.

Mankato Department of Public Safety – Fire Commander Don Lehne said the first line of defense is often others that live in the neighborhood. “Give a call; if you see something, say something. Just be involved in your neighborhood, be aware of what’s going on, and make sure to say something if you see something occurring,” he stated.

Lehne added that the owners of vacant buildings can do their part, by making sure the home or business is well maintained even if it’s empty. He explained, “Once they become run down it just spirals, so if they can keep constant attention on them – mow the property, keep the weeds pulled, if windows are broken replace the windows and keep it secure so people can’t get into the building and use it for unauthorized purposes.”

He also said keeping the yard and the interior lit can be a deterrent.

Arson, however, is not a big problem in the city of Mankato. Lehne said, “We get maybe one a year, not very many.” There was one arson fire in 2017 and one so far this year.