TFS needs your help to track East Texas arson suspect

HENDERSON (News Release) - Texas Forest Service arson investigators are seeking information on suspicious wildfires that occurred in Sunday, Nov. 7, in Rusk County.

Five wildfires on County Roads 3191 and 3262 in southern Rusk County in the late afternoon and evening were controlled by the Garrison Volunteer Fire Department. The timing of the starts, their origins along roadsides and the relatively close proximity of the fires suggested that arson was the probable cause.

Though unable to find ignition devices at the fires, TFS arson investigators believe that the fires likely were the result of an arsonist or arsonists.

Anyone with information about the fires in southern Rusk County is asked to call the Texas Forest Service toll-free arson hot-line at 1-800-364-3470 or contact the Rusk County Sheriff's office. They may be eligible for a reward if their information leads to the arrest and grand jury indictment of the individual(s) responsible for arson fires.

"We are hoping that someone may have seen something in the area that +they might not initially have regarded as suspicious," said Don Poovey, TFS assistant chief law enforcement officer in Henderson. "Now, knowing that the fires were likely to have been deliberately set, perhaps someone can recall seeing or hearing something that might lead to an arrest. Arson fires don't always just burn natural resources; they also can endanger lives and improved property."

Information of potential use to arson investigators includes descriptions of any suspicious persons, vehicles or unusual activity seen in and around the time that wildfires have occurred in an area.

Though some vegetation remains green, the recent arson fires demonstrate that wildfires are still possible. With hard frosts soon to send vegetation into dormancy, additional fuel will then be available to wildfires. Once vegetation goes dormant, fire danger can rise or fall quickly, depending on weather conditions.

"Preventing accidental wildfires will free up available fire resources to fight the blazes deliberately set by the criminals who use fire as their weapon," Poovey said. Arson is a felony offense punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a prison term of up to 99 years.

Again, if you have any information that might help this investigation call the Texas Forest Service toll-free arson hot-line at 1-800-364-3470 or contact the Rusk County Sheriff's office.