Arson suspected in weekend structure fires

Arson suspected in weekend structure fires

HETTICK (Oct. 4, 2018) – Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl says two structure fires reported within about an hour of each other on Saturday, Sept. 29, are suspected to have been intentionally set by the same person(s).

At approximately 9:30 p.m. Saturday, his office received a call of a barn or shed on fire on Cumberland Road just south of Hettick. Dispatchers paged out Hettick Fire District, which responded to the scene and was able to put out the fire, which they believed was intentionally set; the barn was damaged but was not a complete loss.

At 10:34 p.m., Kahl’s dispatchers received another report of a structure fire, this time to an old school house at the corner of Rinaker and Finch roads northwest of Chesterfield — about five miles away from the first fire. Carlinville Fire District was paged out to the fire but unable to salvage the schoolhouse, which was a complete loss.

The fire department and deputy believed that fire was also intentionally set, likely by the same person(s) responsible for the first fire. As a result, the Illinois Fire Marshal was contacted.

“At this point in time, with them being five miles apart and around an hour apart, both intentionally set, we believe they are connected,” said Kahl. “It’s something that I fear is not going to stop at this point in time.” He encouraged anyone with information about either fire to contact his office at (217) 854-3135 or the Macoupin Montgomery Counties Crime Stoppers at (800) 352-0136, macmontcrimestoppers.com or by texting TIP722 plus the message to CRIMES (274637). If an arrest is made as a result of a tip submitted to CrimeStoppers, the person submitting the tip is eligible for a reward.

The former Union School, located at the intersection of Rinaker and Finch roads northwest of Chesterfield, was destroyed in one of two structure fires that occurred within about an hour Saturday night, Sept. 29. The fires are believed to have been intentionally set. Photo provided by Ed and Denise Doolin.