January 31, 2002

String Of Suspicious Fires Continues In Schuyler County

Schuyler County was struck by the ninth fire of suspicious nature in the past two years when the old MFA fertilizer plant building burned to the ground at approximately 9:30 p.m. January 21. The building, which is located in the north central part of town, was unoccupied but was being used for storage by the owner, Casey Spears of Glenwood. The structure was totally destroyed by the fire.

The State Fire Marshall's office as well as the Lancaster Police Department and the Schuyler County Sheriff's Department are investigating the case. As of press time no cause of the fire had been determined, but it was being deemed suspicious in nature as there was no electricity or heat to the building and it had last been legally entered approximately 10 days prior to the blaze.

Since March 26, 2000 seven fires of a suspicious nature have occurred in unoccupied buildings and houses in Lancaster in addition to two vehicle fires. One other fire in Coatsville also was deemed suspicious by investigators during that same time period.

"We believe most of the fires are connected in some way," stated Schuyler County Sheriff Donald Bruner. "Every building fire has been a total loss, which leaves no evidence for investigators to go on. I do realize we have a serious problem with fires in the city limits of Lancaster, and we have very little to go on."

Bruner is requesting any citizens who might have seen any suspicious activity near the MFA plant any time prior to the fire to contact the State Fire Marshall Arson Hotline at 1-800-392-7766 or to call the sheriff's department at 660-457-3436 or the Lancaster Fire Department at 660-457-3121.

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