MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (KDKA) — In Morgantown, they’re cracking down on so-called “victory fires.”
Some of them could now be prosecuted as felonies, and the fire starters could even face prison time.
“It’s a safety concern more than it is anything else,” said Chief Mark Caravasos. “We have had people hurt, and the potential is there for people to be hurt.”
Most recently, thousands of people took to the streets of Morgantown lighting fires to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden.
Most of the time, it’s WVU sports victories that spark people to set couches, dumpsters or trash on fire.
Chief Caravasos believes a new approach in prosecuting will make a difference. It’s not a change in the law, but rather, in the way laws are enforced.
Instead of using the city’s misdemeanor malicious burning ordinance, officials will turn to the state fire code for larger fires. That means fire starters could be charged with a felony and could face one to three years in prison.
It would apply to people who light dumpsters on fire and possibly for people who torch couches. Chief Caravasos says it depends on whether the couch is worth more than $500 or if an accelerant was used.
“I don’t think it should be a felony really,” said WVU Sophomore Elizabeth DeCario. “I think they should get kicked out of school, but I don’t think it should be a felony. That’s a little too much.”
Others, though, disagree. “I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” said Derrick Paul of Morgantown. “It might be a little harsh, but I think the harder the discipline, it will slow them down.”
The Mountaineers will play Marshall on Sunday in an afternoon game.
“With football season coming up everyone’s watching Morgantown to see what’s going to happen,” said Chief Caravasos. “Hopefully, I hope it’s nothing.”
Morgantown Fire Department