Johnston County agencies to coordinate arson investigations
Posted October 18, 2010 6:23 a.m. EDT
Updated October 18, 2010 6:27 p.m. EDT
Smithfield, N.C. — Monday morning's fire at Johnston County Recycling Inc. marked the 35th suspicious fire in Johnston County over the past 12 months, according to Smithfield and Clayton police and the sheriff's office.
The three agencies plan to meet for the first time face-to-face either this week or next. They've previously talked over the phone.
The agencies said they believe the fires in their jurisdictions are related, but they are doubtful that all of the fires are connected based on the locations and how they have been set.
Smithfield police say an arsonist struck the recycling warehouse early Monday, marking the sixth suspicious fire in Smithfield since August.
An officer was able to put out the flames with his feet and a fire extinguisher after a passing driver alerted authorities. Some of the building's duct work was damaged.
Clayton has reported nine fires since October 2009, mostly in new houses or houses under construction. Since April, 20 fires have been set in barns and vacant houses in the southern part of Johnston County.
Clayton and Smithfield have been working with the State Bureau of Investigation. A $5,000 reward is being offered for any information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of the person responsible for any or all of these fires.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Smithfield Police at 919-934-2121 or confidentially on the department's tip line at 919-989-8835.