BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Polk County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating the complete loss of two cabins worth more than $105,000 that were destroyed by fire in rural Polk County on Polk Road 82, that were discovered on Friday, September 30, 2016. Around 10 a.m. Friday, Deputy Steve Fortner spoke with a deputy from the Howard County Sheriff’s Office in reference to the burned cabins. Fortner notified Forest Service Officer Joe Liles and asked for his assistance in locating the property.
Upon arrival, the son of the owner of one cabin, Alan Wakefield, was on scene. He stated he was coming to check the cabins so a friend could stay this weekend. Wakefield could not locate the key to their gate that was normally hidden nearby. When he inspected the gate further, he noticed the lock was missing. After coming through the gate, Wakefield notice that two of the three cabins there had burned to the ground. Oddly, the two cabins that burned were on either end and the cabin in the middle was untouched by the fires.
Wakefield reported that the last time he or his father knew of any use of the area was in April, during spring turkey season. However, when the owner of the second cabin, Kirk Bell, was contacted, he reported the property was used on July 4th, 2016 by the Howard County Sheriff’s Office for a cookout. There has been no known activity at the location since that day.
Although wiring and water lines connected the two cabins, there was no electricity hooked up. Bell reported that a generator had previously been used at the cabins, but were no longer hooked up either.
There was another building on the property that had a broken shutter and window and an open closet and cabinet door inside. “There were no signs of attempted burning of this building,” Fortner stated in his report.
Arson is suspected, but has not been determined as the official cause, as it is possible that the cabins were struck by lightening. Sheriff-Elect Scott Sawyer said that insurance agents will visit the location in the next few days for further investigation in determining the cause. Both cabins were covered by insurance.