Haystack fires

Rewards totaling $15,000 have been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of arsonists who have set at least 12 haystack fires in the area.

Authorities in Washington are offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the people who have set more than a dozen fires that have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of losses to haystacks.

At least 12 haystack fires have been identified as “incendiary,” said Kyle Foreman, public information officer for the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, based in Ephrata, Wash.

“Which leads us to suspect strongly that these are being set by somebody, or a number of persons,” Foreman told the Capital Press.

The Arson Alarm Foundation is offering a $10,000 reward. The sheriff’s office is offering a $5,000 reward.

A few other fires have been determined to be spontaneous combustion due to wet hay, and one was accidental, Foreman said.

Haystack sizes range from 600 tons to 1,000 tons of hay. A ton of alfalfa hay is worth $210-$230.

The fires of concern date back to Oct. 3. The most recent was Nov. 22.

The fires were in the rural Quincy, Ephrata and Royal City areas.

Locations of 2019 Grant County haystack arsons, according to the sheriff’s office:

• Road 6 NW and Road N.5 NW.

• Road 3 NW and O NW.

• Road U NE and Road 2 NE.

• Adams Road NW and Road 9 NW.

• Road U NE and Road 3 NE.

• Road 9 NW and Road I.5 NW.

• Road 3 NW and Road A NW.

• 4500 Block of Road 3 NW.

• Road 3 NW and Division Road N.

• Road L SE and Road 4 SE.

• Beverly Burke Road and Highway 26.

• 8000 Block Martin Road NW.

Total damages have not been determined, Foreman said.

“It’s several thousand dollars worth of loss for the farmers,” he said of the value of the hay.

The sheriff’s office urges farmers to install surveillance cameras, game cameras or perimeter alarms around haystacks and at the access to haystacks.

Farmers can call 509-762-1160 to ask for a deputy to provide advice on camera or sensor placement.

Farmers should also rake the areas around haystacks and access routes. The raked soil will assist deputies in identifying tire tracks and shoe impressions that can be matched to suspects.

If you have information about the arsons, contact the sheriff’s office at crimetips@grantcountywa.gov.

Also, call the Arson Alarm Foundation at 1-800-55-ARSON.

If the fire is in progress, call 911 and give the information to the dispatcher, Foreman said.

“Right now, we just know we have an unusually high number of haystack fires and they appear to be intentionally set,” he said. “We want to get these people into custody.”

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