UPDATED Dec. 28 at 11:16 a.m.
Several trash cans were burned, but no one was injured in a string of arson incidents that occurred on Dec. 22 in the Dacula area.
A New Hope Road resident arrived home shortly after 2 a.m. on Dec. 22 to find Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services personnel extinguishing two flaming trash cans at her residence.
The incident was just one of eight reported that evening. Police and firefighters were also called to homes on Gracebrook Drive, Luke Edwards Road and Indian Bluffs Drive.
The eight incidents were the latest in a series of intentionally set trash bin fires in the Dacula and Lawrenceville areas dating back to August according to Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services public information officer Lt. Eric Eberly.
Approximately 20 trash bins have been damaged in areas both north and south of Highway 316 in the past few months, Eberly said. The blazes are being set in the early morning hours. To date, no structures have been damaged and no one has been injured.
“In each case, the bin had been placed at the street for trash pickup when it was burned,” Eberly wrote in an emailed response to questions.
Fire investigators believe the incidents are likely related as the fires appear to be similar in nature and all involve 90-gallon trash bins. The perpetrator could face multiple charges of third-degree arson with each count carrying a penalty of 1-5 years behind bars as well as fines.
Anyone with information about these fires is asked to contact the Gwinnett Fire Arson and Explosives Section at 678-518-4890. Residents should report any suspicious activity to the authorities immediately.
"The big problem with the trash can fires is a lot of the time we don’t even know just how many there are," Eberly explained.
Eberly said homeowners often do not realize the gravity of the situation.
"The homeowner will often see the trash can burned in the street the next morning and to them there is no need to notify the fire department. So we don’t know exactly how often this is occurring and the location of the incidents," he added.
To avoid becoming a victim, the Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services suggests residents take the following preventative measures:
- Set trash receptacles out at the street during daylight hours, just before the scheduled trash pickup.
- Bring the receptacle back to the house and store in a safe place between weekly trash pickups.
- Maintain a well-lighted area outside the home. Outdoor lighting such as streetlights and floodlights are a deterrent for criminal activity.
- Watch out for each other and be sure to report any suspicious vehicles, persons, or activities to the police immediately by calling 9-1-1.
The trash can fires are not the first time an arsonist has targeted waste containers in the Dacula area. Earlier this year, an Those cases remain unsolved.
Georgia Arson Control, Inc. offers a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person(s) responsible for arson.