ASHLEY COUNTY, Ark. (10/2/19) — The Ashley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a cluster of fires as a possible arson.
Sheriff’s deputies, local fire departments and the Arkansas Forestry Commission responded to one fire this afternoon on Pugh Cemetery Road and three separate fires Tuesday afternoon around 3 p.m.
Two of the fires yesterday occurred on Murphy Farm Road east of town. The other fire occurred on Ashley Road 4, south of town.
“I don’t know why anyone would want to do that,” Sheriff Tommy Sturgeon said. “They burnt up one place and they said it was approximately two hundred acres.”
The recent fires aren’t the only blazes first responders have contained. Sheriff Sturgeon said in the past month there have been several breakouts of fires, especially in rural areas.
“We’ve had fires off and on for the last month or so,” Sheriff Sturgeon said. “Not all of them appear to be set but the majority of them appear to be set fires.”
The fires occurring Tuesday afternoon was the first time houses were nearby. One family that lives on Ashley Road 411 was home when crews rushed to their street to handle the blaze. Aerial firefighting was even used to combat the fires.
The family said it was a scary moment but they’re thankful the winds weren’t strong enough to push the blaze onto their property.
Sheriff Sturgeon said the grass is so dry from the heat that even someone throwing a cigarette into the woods could cause a fire but he and other agencies believe someone is doing this on purpose.
“I just can’t see three fires starting in the same area about the same time from someone throwing cigarettes out,” he said. “I just can’t see it.”
The sheriff’s office is working with the Arkansas Forestry Commission to investigate the fires. They urge residents to be on the lookout for anything that may look suspicious.
“Keep your eyes out, especially those people that live out in the rural areas,” Sheriff Sturgeon said. “If you see a vehicle that doesn’t belong there and that seems to be stopping and looking around, let us know.”
Investigators hope they can catch whoever is setting the fires. If you see anything unusual or know who may be behind the arson, contact the Ashley County Sheriff’s Office at 870-853-2044.