HAGERSTOWN - Despite door-to-door canvassing to some 4,000 homes every summer and passing out thousands of free smoke alarms, residential fires in the city of Hagerstown have more than tripled in the first two months of the year, said Mike Weller, Hagerstown Fire Department's public educator.
"Since the first of the year there have been 10 significant fires, all in just two months," Weller said.
Significant fires are defined as fires that cause substantial damage to at least one room of a building.
In an average year, the department responds to about two substantial fires in the same time frame, he said.
Cooking, arson, unattended children playing with cigarette lighters or matches, and faulty electrical systems are among the causes in the recent rash of significant fires, Weller said.
Residential fires in the city have increased in frequency and severity since 2003, he said. While the fire department's aggressive public education program has targeted thousands of city residents, Weller said the root of the problem won't be solved by existing fire prevention programs.