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Reward for information on arsons increased to $25,000

Toledo fire investigators and police announced Friday afternoon that they've increased the reward for information about recent arsons to $25,000 using money from the city's Law Enforcement Trust Fund.

The reward money does not come out of the city's general fund, officials said.

The city has experienced 80 suspicious fires so far this year, 31 of which are being investigated by the Toledo Fire and Rescue Investigative Unit. Several state and federal agencies have been brought in to assist with the probe.

"We know there are people out there with information about who is starting these fires," Fire Chief Michael Wolever said at a Friday news conference. "These are not individual instances. There is a connection between these fires and we need help in putting an end to them before someone is seriously harmed. We're hoping that by increasing the reward, someone will be compelled to come forward with information."

The reward previously had been increased from $5,000 to $10,000 last month, which was essentially a doubling of the money usually handed out for a successful Crime Stoppers tip. The number is 419-255-1111.

Toledo firefighters early Friday battled multiple overnight blazes of vacant homes in the same South Toledo neighborhood. Officials describe them as suspicious.

The first fire was reported about 1:45 a.m. Friday at 725 Wasaon St., between Segur and Western avenues, and spread to two other houses, fire dispatchers said.

At least two of the buildings were destroyed, the remains of which had to be knocked down by fire crews.

Firefighters also battled a blaze at 354 Langdon St..

Toledo last year led Ohio's six largest cities with the most arsons per capita, according to federal statistics.

Toledo police reported 510 arsons in 2009, which is 175 arsons per 100,000 people. The statewide average is 96.6 arsons per 100,000 people.

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