Local News

Arsonist Heats Up Work for Johnston County Authorities

Posted March 28, 2007 9:57 p.m. EDT
Updated September 19, 2010 9:37 a.m. EDT

— Someone has set fires on purpose four of the last seven days in Johnston County. Investigators want to catch the arsonist before one of the fires gets out of hand.

Authorities said there have been at least 10 fires set in the last seven days. The most recent one was set along Hockaday Road in the Blackmon's Crossroads section of Johnston County.

“We found the grass was burning,” said Blackmon's Crossroads assistant fire chief Stanton Massengill. “The woods were burning. We had to get manpower and equipment out here to put it out.”

Massengill said it was one of two suspicious fires set along the roadway Monday.

“It was hot Monday, and (it was a challenge) having enough hose to reach the fire and the thick underbrush,” he said.

Fire investigators have plotted the fires on a map to figure out if there's any type of pattern. What they do know is the fires are usually set between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

“One positive thing is a lot of the fires that are being set are set in areas where there wouldn't be any structures in danger or people in danger,” said Johnston County Fire Marshal Harold Henrich.

Henrich said he believes these fires are the work of a thrillseeker – someone who gets a kick out of seeing fire trucks and firefighters at work.

For volunteer firefighters like Massengill, who has been fighting blazes for 31 years, fires set on purpose tax the volunteer ranks.

“You got all these people that donate their time to put out a fire, and they're not getting paid for their time,” he said.