KENEDY – A serial arsonist believed to be responsible for a slew of rural fires struck again southwest of here Oct. 22, according to fire officials.
Karnes City Fire Chief Charlie Malik confirmed investigators believe the fires, which burned through hay bales on three separate properties, were intentionally set.
Fires burned on state Highway 72 and county roads 158 and 152.
“We got called right behind Kenedy to go back them up. We were about five minutes behind Kenedy ... when a call came in for another fire on 72. So we did the one on 72 and they did the one on 158.”
Local rancher Terry Johnson’s property was one of the three affected that day, and he said rural producers have had just about enough of whoever’s responsible.
“This is extremely frustrating that someone could come onto my property and physically take something away from me,” he said. “This person needs to be caught and punished to the full extent of the law. This has been going on since February of this year. Numerous locations. If anybody knows of any information at all, please contact the local officials. If you see a suspicious vehicle driving around the county roads, get a license plate number and a description of the vehicle so we can get this person caught.”
He was mere minutes from catching the culprit, himself.
“I had taken some cattle to the vet and then dropped them off at another place. I drove right down the county road in front of the place they set my bales on fire. There was no vehicle or anyone around. Then I get a call 15 minutes from the neighbor that my hay is on fire,” he said. “So by the time I had driven by the place, the arsonist had entered my property 150 yards past a cattle guard ... and set some of my hay on fire. By the time I got over there with my tractor, I was able to save a few of my bales. But 120 bales burned up.”
He said the impact to producers can be severe.
“Luckily I have surplus hay. But if I wouldn’t have had surplus hay, I would have had to go out and purchase additional hay to feed my cows this winter. It puts a financial burden on ranchers when this happens to them,” Johnson said.
The state fire marshal’s office and the sheriff continue to investigate the case.