Local fire departments create Central Texas arson task force

TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) Fire Departments in Bell and Coryell counties have formed an arson task force with the goal of getting to the bottom of deadly fires faster.

(Photo by Chelsea Edwards/file)

Firefighters will usually know within the first hour of a major incident if the Centex Fire and Arson Task Force needs to be activated.

The idea is to pool resources and experience to figure out the cause of large commercial fires and other incidents involving injuries or deaths.

"Those types of investigations are very long, very intense, and very detail-oriented. It normally takes more than one or two investigators to get the job done correctly,” Temple Fire Chief Mitch Randles said.

“It brings together a vast variety of folks with different experiences and different backgrounds,” he said.

“It also enables us to look at several different things all at the same time, so while one group is investigating the fire, another could be talking to witnesses, another at the hospital maybe with the injured or family members.”

Cities involved in the task force include Temple, Belton, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove and Killeen.

Temple got approval to participate from its city council on Nov. 1.

The task force will be made official when other fire teams get the thumbs up from their city councils and legal departments.

The collaboration will also help identify patterns of arson that may extend across city lines.