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Johnston County deputies search for arsonist

Posted June 24, 2010
Updated September 19, 2010

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— Johnston County deputies are searching for an arsonist responsible for numerous barn fires in the area.

Sheriff Steve Bizzell said there have been nine fires near the Bentonville and Four Oaks areas since February. So far, all have been storage barns or vacant homes. Investigators said they appear to be related.

“Apparently, we've got a fire bug on the loose burning these old buildings and these old homes,” Bizzell said Wednesday. “It's serious business, and we're taking it very seriously.”

The latest fire occurred at Anthony Westbrook’s family farm on Oak Forest Road in Four Oaks on Sunday. His old storage barn and new $30,000 hay baler were destroyed in an overnight fire. Johnston County deputies search for arsonist Johnston County deputies search for arsonist

Wetbrook also lost irreplaceable antique farm equipment, including a tractor that belonged to his late father.

People who live nearby worry the arsonist's next target could be a home with people inside.

Bizzell said deputies are actively chasing leads in the case.

“Just going out in search of a firebug is like finding a needle in a haystack, but I will tell you the needle can be found,” he said.

Johnston County arson cases, as of June 24, 2010

Johnston County barn fires

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  • johnstonredneck Jun 24, 2010

    I live in the area of the fires and everyone is wondering if we are next? Hopefully the person will be caught before he strikes again.

  • mdbrown1021 Jun 24, 2010

    I wonder if these fires are anyway linked with the ones that have been occurring in Apex. Those have been vacant houses as well.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Jun 24, 2010

    Westbrook's fire occured about three weeks ago.

  • notagain1903 Jun 24, 2010

    From the looks of the map they are pretty spread out to be just one guy or a person with a grudge. Hope they find him quick before he starts on occupied homes!!!

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Jun 24, 2010

    I hope they find out what happen & if someone done it I hope they find out who.