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Arsonist May Be at Work in Sampson County

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NEWTON GROVE — A total of eight buildings haveburned in Sampson County since January and three more broke out Tuesdaynight. Residents are wary and authorities believe a single arsonist orgroup of arsonists could be responsible.

The first Tuesday fire gutted a house near Newton Grove. Withinminutes, flames were discovered at Dunn Brothers Motors, just down thestreet. Shortly after, a third fire broke out at an Amoco station inNewton Grove.

When the Johnson family's house burned Tuesday night it was the secondtime they'd been hit. Their barn was burned by an arsonist a few monthsago.

Wednesday morning investigators returned to the scenes. The fires areeerily reminiscent of blazes that occurred one night in January.

Then, two fires broke out just two miles and 16 minutes apart. Ninefire stations were called out to deal with a warehouse and a shed full ofantiques. Arson was subsequently determined as the cause.

Last night, Dunn Motors main building was saved, but a buildingaddition and a nearby camper sustained severe damage, possibly totaling$50,000.

Dunn Motors' co-owner Ben Dunn said he heard the first blaze announcedon a police scanner he monitors from home. The next fire call was to hisownbusiness, and that's when he dashed downtown to see what was happening.

All of the fires have been within a 10-mile radius of Newton Grove.

Area merchants have gotten together to offer a $1,000 reward to anyonewho provides police with information leading to an arrest. The number tocall is 910-594-0829.

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