By Ray King

Although structure fires in Pine Bluff accounted for less than seven percent of the total calls for the Fire and Emergency Services Department in December, they more than doubled compared to the previous month.

According to the monthly report, there were 25 structure fires, 13 more than in November. Of those, 11 were reported in Ward 1, 4 in Ward 2, 5 in Ward 3 and 5 in Ward 4.

Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell described the increase as a “seasonal spike.”

Howell said seven of those structure fires were at vacant properties, meaning they were possibly arsons.

There were 401 total calls in December, that was 39 more than in November, with increases also reported in vehicle fires, jumping from 7 to 12, and in the category of other, going from 91 in November to 122 last month.

Emergency Medical calls, which month to month is the leading category for department activity declined slightly with 155 calls in November and 153 last month but they still accounted for 38.15 percent of the total calls.

Vehicle accidents with injuries, which are distinguished from emergency medical calls accounted for another 7.23 percent of the total calls with 29 reported, the same number as in November.

Firefighters responded to 21 fire alarms in December, one more than in November and another 30 calls were determined to be false alarms, eight fewer than in November.