Arson canine will sniff out Ore., Wash. fires

ALLIE has joined Skamania County Fire District 6, alongside Deputy Fire Chief Patrick Nicholson, above. The yellow lab will help sniff out accelerants used to start fires. Those investigations will be in both Oregon and Washington.

STEVENSON — Skamania County Fire District 6 has welcomed its newest and furriest member, Allie the arson dog.

Allie, a two-year-old yellow lab, joins new Deputy Fire Chief Patrick Nicholson. The duo transferred from Jefferson County, where they worked on a task force that helped various agencies investigate blazes around the Northwest.

Now based in Stevenson, Nicholson and Allie will respond to calls for support in a service area that includes northwest and central Oregon, and all of Washington.

Allie is one of the more than 350 arson dog teams in the United States and Canada sponsored by State Farm and trained by Maine Specialty Dogs. The dogs help local and state law enforcement officers by sniffing out accelerants used to start fires.

Allie also has a warm personality. Nicholson described his partner as “very playful and good with children.”

“Much of our time is spent at schools in the communities educating about fire prevention and the crime of arson,” Nicholson said.

The Maine K-9 program chooses only Labrador Retrievers due to their “superior ability to discriminate scents at a fire scene,” and their “love to work” attitude, according to a State Farm fact sheet on the program.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were over 41,500 intentionally set fires in 2009 causing over $792 million dollars in damage. Arson dogs played a key role in determining the cause of many of those fires.

State Farm has been a sponsor of the Arson Dog Program since 1993.

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