Arson cases increase in Anchorage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Anchorage’s only fire department arson investigator is appealing for witnesses in recent cases.

Brian Balega says 87 fires are considered suspicious and are under investigation.

That includes past cases but Balega says 58 of the fires have occurred since January.

Balega made his appeal for the public to come forward as two arrests were made in an elementary school playground fire.

Anchorage police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro says two seventh-grade boys were taken into custody for a fire Friday at College Gate Elementary that caused $30,000 in damage. The boys are 13 and 14.

The Anchorage Daily News reports the juveniles face arson and criminal mischief charges.

They have been released to their parents.

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