Rockford Sees Increase in Number of Fires

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Dozens of fires have been keeping the Rockford Fire Department busy this winter.

The latest one happened overnight in the 600 block of Concord Ave. — at the same home where a 17-year-old was shot and killed last week. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“We’re treating the fire as suspicious at this time, but we haven’t made any determination on [the cause],” said Chief Derek Bergsten.

Firefighters have battled over 70 structure fires in the last three months. But despite that, Bergsten says the increase in fires doesn’t equal an increase in overtime.

“Our number of responses that we go to does not have a direct impact on our overtime. We have a set amount [of firefighters] on duty every day to respond to all the types of emergencies, whether fire, EMS or other specialty rescue,” said Bergsten.

The Chief says the main concern with the frequency in fires is keeping both firefighters and citizens safe.

“We’ve been very fortunate the past few months. We’ve had an increase in fires that we have not had anyone seriously injured,” said Bergsten.

He says it’s easy to forget little things this time of year that can cause fires to start.

“Now that we’re running into the holiday season, we want to make sure everyone is very cognizant of, if they have a live Christmas tree, that they’re keeping it watered, that they turn the lights off when they’re not at home,” said Bergsten. “And our biggest cause of fires that we have is cooking fires.”

Bergsten reminds everyone that having the tools in place to stay safe is most important.

“Make sure you’re aware and that you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.”

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