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News Suspicious fires spark concern in Otto community

Six fires have occurred in or near this trailer in Otto in the past four months. Photo by Vickie CarpenterInvestigators are looking into a series of suspicious fires that have taken place at one Otto residence over the past several weeks, including two fires this week which completely destroyed a mobile home on the property.

On Tuesday, July 19, the Otto Fire Department responded to a call shortly after 10 p.m. reporting a fire behind the residence at 151 Tiffany Lane. The caller said that a white truck had been seen leaving the property at a high rate of speed immediately before smoke was noticed coming from behind the mobile home on the property.

Firefighters completely extinguished the blaze in a short time. Later however, around 1 a.m the same evening, a second call came in advising that the fire had been rekindled.

According to Macon County Fire Investigator, Farrell Jamison the first fire had apparently been started in the kitchen area of the residence, which is currently unoccupied and has no electricity. Upon investigation, the second fire, however, appeared not to have been connected to the first.

“The second fire was not a rekindle,” Jamison explained, “because the second fire was in a different section of the trailer that the first fire had not spread to.” Jamison stated that there was evidence of forcible entry and other clear signs that the fire was due to arson.

According to Jamison, a previous renter reported that there have been at least six fires on the property in the past four months. The renter said that a similar fire had started at the mobile home two or three months ago and and that almost three weeks ago a shed next to the trailer was also set on fire. Approximately two weeks ago, a recliner chair was dragged into the yard and set on fire.

“This appears to be a neighborhood issue,” Jamison suggested. “There have been other reports of various property damage just in the past week in that same neighborhood and it has a lot of the neighbors concerned.”

The renter has subsequently moved out of the residence. On Tuesday night, the residence was unoccupied and no injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

On both calls, Franklin and Clarks Chapel fire departments assisted Otto Fire Department.

As of press time, Sheriff Robert Holland said his office is investigating the case, but as yet, no specific suspects have been named. Detective Don Willis is leading the investigation.

Holland said that witness statements his office has collected so far have led to conflicting information, but that new information is still being analyzed.

Anyone with information on these fires is asked to contact the Macon County Sheriff's office at (828)349-2104. Individuals who wish to remain anonymous can also call Crime Stoppers at (828)349-2600.

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