BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Fire officials have been working hard this year to limit the number of arson cases, especially after the high numbers experienced in 2020.

“They might not use gun violence, but they would try other means to retaliate,” said St. George Fire Prevention Chief Darian Williams.

Baton Rouge fire officials said the coronavirus pandemic led to an alarming number of people setting fires.

“I think in regards to everything else that we’ve been dealing with mental illness, frustration, COVID-19, things like that, and people have been responding in extreme ways,” said Williams.

However, Williams said arson has taken a slight 25 percent dip this year when compared to 2020.

“They get out and they’re able to vent in different ways, so they don’t put out their frustration against another human being. Because in 2020 we were faced with the unknown and people were frustrated,” he explained.

He also believes the development and growth of their arson investigative units have deterred people from committing this type of crime.

“I think when you investigate, you make arrests and that makes people think twice about doing it,” said Williams.

As 2022 reigns in, agencies also warned against other fires.

“If you are going to do fireworks, please do them safe. Always in the presence of adults,” said St. George Fire Spokesman Eldon Ledoux. “Fire has a way of growing, it doesn’t stay small long. So I would be as careful with the small firecracker as you would be with a stick of dynamite.”

Ledoux urged people to have water on hand and refrain from using them near buildings.