BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Polk County Sheriff’s Department has released a statement suspecting arson in a story first brought to you by The Pulse last week. In a string of seven fires that stretch from Potter to along Highway 270 and into eastern Oklahoma, the Sheriff’s Department says they are all considered as “suspicious fires.”
Three fires were reported on February 20 – 21 on Highway 270 near Rich Mountain community. The first call came in around 4 p.m. Friday, February 20, reporting a small structure, possibly a storage shed, on fire near Eagleton. The structure was a complete loss.
The next day, Saturday, February 21, around 7:30 a.m., another call was received stating an RV sitting on the side of Hwy. 270 West, between Eagleton and Rich Mountain, was on fire. The RV has been sitting there for many years with no utilities hooked-up.
Approximately two hours later, a third call was received, reporting a vacant cabin, just passed Rich Mountain Store on Hwy. 270, was on fire as well. According to Steve Watson, owner of Rich Mountain Store, this cabin was the “old Little house place ½ mile west of the 270/272 junction.”
Hours later, a fourth fire was reported in Page, Oklahoma, just across the state line from the Rich Mountain community. The store, formally named Hillbilly Junction, was reported at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. The store sits at the junction of Hwy. 270 and Hwy. 259. Also in Page, a vacant trailer was burnt as well making a total of five fires over the two-day period.
During the following weekend, between February 27 and March 1, two more fires were reported, this time in the New Potter area. According to the released statement, a hay barn and a vehicle that has been parked in a wooded area for a number of years in a non-running condition were also burned.
The statement said that due to the fact that all structures were vacant, none of the structures had any utilities hooked up, the vehicles were in non-running condition, and it was snowing or raining when the fires occurred, it appears that accelerant was used in all of the blazes.
The Sheriff’s Department said, “We are now ready to say that a person or persons are working in Polk County to set intentional fires. Though we are following several leads at this time, we are not ready to share information regarding those leads, as it would compromise the investigation. However, the Sheriff’s Office realizes the importance of public assistance due to the large area that is involved, namely all of the county.”
The Polk County Sheriff’s Department would like to encourage citizens that if you see any suspicious vehicle or person in your area, or any suspicious fire, please contact them at 479-394-2511.