Officials target Bell County arsonists

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Forestry officials said they are concerned about arsonists in Bell County. Now they are teaming up with State Police and the State Fire Marshal to crack down on those who are setting the woods on fire for fun.

It started with a roundtable meeting.

"The majority of fires that are caused in this area are arson," said Jared Calvert, District Forester.

Forestry officials and Kentucky State Police hit the streets to get the word out.

"Anybody that lives near these, if the fire comes near their house, you are putting other lives in danger," said Walt Meachum, with Kentucky State Police.

Bell County tops the state's list for the number of arsons. The message from police - starting fires in the forest is a felony.

"We're wanting them to see we are serious about this," said Meachum.

Police said within the past few years, the Kettle Island community has been notorious. That's why they spent the morning spreading the word.

The campaign has officials offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of an arsonist.

Most of these fires do not occur by chance, and forestry officials know that.

"As the airplane flies, you'll actually see the four wheelers around sets that just get started," said Calvert.

A message as we enter the spring months that will hopefully put out the fires before they even start.

"If it ends up causing an injury to somebody, you're looking at assault, wanton endangerment, or if somebody dies as a result possibly a murder charge," said Meachum.

Forestry officials use mapping tools to find what they call hot spots. Officials said this is the first campaign of its kind in the area.

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