Dozen Robeson fires investigated as arson
Posted February 26
Updated February 27
Saint Pauls, N.C. — Authorities are investigating after at least a dozen fires were set in several areas of Robeson County over the weekend.
Big Marsh Fire Department Capt. Harvey Inman said the fires were started on grassy areas along roads, and flying embers sparked another half-dozen fires.
The largest of the 18 fires was near Oakland Road and Balance Road in St. Pauls, and three vehicles were seen leaving the area, Inman said.
"We started with one, and then it was another and another and another," he said. "Certainly, something other than Mother Nature started these fires."
No injuries were reported, but an abandoned mobile home and an old barn were destroyed by the fires, which burned about 1,500 acres altogether, authorities said.
The fires did come close to several homes, however.
"When we started driving down the road to come home, you couldn't see the road because there was so much smoke," said Alex LaCroix, who runs a monument engraving business out of his home. "I started loading everything up that was irreplaceable to us. We hooked up our machinery. I was afraid, if the swamp would have caught on fire, they wouldn't be stopping it."
Ten fire departments had to come to the aid of the Big Marsh department. Two planes and a helicopter from the North Carolina Forestry Service also helped battle the fires.
"It's pretty scary. You want to get some help as quickly as you can," Inman said. "You have people's lives, structures and their homes, and you want to move as quick as you can."
The arson investigation has been turned over to the Forestry Service and the county fire marshal.
LaCroix and other Homeowners said the culprit should be punished.
"I think they either need to spend some time behind bars to think about it, or they need to do some community service. Someone needs to teach them a lesson," LaCroix said.