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Urban community intervention to prevent Halloween arson--Detroit, Michigan, 1985-1996

Urban community intervention to prevent Halloween arson--Detroit, Michigan, 1985-1996

Mmwr. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 46(14): 299-304

Arson, the second leading cause of residential fire-associated deaths in the United States, accounts for approximately 700 deaths annually, destroys homes, and destabilizes neighborhoods. In Detroit, Michigan (1990 population: 1,027,974), arson accounted for nearly half (46.3%) of all fire-related deaths since 1984. During the late 1970s, pre-Halloween pranks traditionally associated in some parts of the United States with the night of October 30 turned destructive in Detroit, with hundreds of fires set throughout the city. By 1984, October 30 became known as "Devil's Night" and had evolved to 3 consecutive nights of arson on October 29-31; in that year, a record 810 fires were reported. In 1985, Detroit began a citywide intervention campaign against arson and vandalism during the 3-day Halloween period using data from an ongoing fire surveillance system maintained by the Detroit Fire Department (DFD) to target areas at high risk for arson. This report describes the intervention implemented by the city of Detroit from 1985 through 1996 and the impact of the intervention in preventing Halloween arson; approximately 34,000 volunteers participated in 1996, and the number of fires during this 3-day period decreased to the average number of fires for any other 3-day period during the remainder of the year.

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Accession: 047886605

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 9132582

DOI: 10.1001/jama.1997.03540440021011

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