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Arsons have been on the rise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We look into why

ATLANTA — Federal investigators arrested a man and stopped a possible arson attempt Tuesday at the Federal Reserve Bank in midtown Atlanta.

Police said a man dressed in a mechanic suit walked up to a door around 9 a.m. with two gas cans and set a fire.

In recent months, Channel 2 Action News has reported on a number of arsons and Channel 2 investigative reporter Ashli Lincoln has learned that it’s a growing trend.

Data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shows Georgia is one of the leading states across the nation when it comes to destructive fires that were intentionally set to cause damage.

Fire investigators say they’ve seen an uptick in arsons since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shanathia Bentford said she and her family of 13 are recovering after flames engulfed their Conyers home.

“We’re working on housing to try and get everyone back together,” Bentford said. “The world is pretty crazy right now, but the fires are definitely not it.”

Channel 2 Action News first brought you her story on Sunday after she said fire investigators with Rockdale County were investigating her home’s fire as a possible arson.

“We lost our home, personal belongings, paperwork,” Bentford said.

In November, the Mall of Georgia had to be evacuated after a fire that investigators ruled as arson.

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“At this moment, I’m lost for words,” Bentford said about her situation.

Numbers from the FBI reveal arsons have been on a steady rise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the ATF reported more than 7,000 arsons across the nation, compared to around 6,000 the previous year.

Fire investigators say they classify these types of fires with the intent to destroy as incendiary.

They told Lincoln there are several reasons why a person may want to commit arson. Some include a person with a mental health disorder, a domestic dispute or a person with criminal intent.

A look at the ATF’s arson incident report shows Georgia ranks as among the top 10 states in 2020 with the highest incendiary arsons reported.

Residences are the most common types of properties targeted for arsons.

“That’s a big concern for me,” Bentford said.

Bentford told Lincoln while she hopes no one experiences what her family is going through, she’s thankful for the outpouring of support from the community to get them back on their feet.

“It’s a blessing at this point. My family, we highly appreciate everyone for the donations,” Bentford said.

Lincoln learned that in most cases, investigators are able to quickly identify suspects and arrest them.

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