Tillman County_The Tillman County Sheriff has been investigating 15 suspicious fires in seven months on agricultural land around Frederick. The latest fires occurred last week, and in the most recent in a hayfield east of Manitou. He says that the latest blaze is likely linked to the fires that have been sparking around the county since January.
The sheriff says that most of the damage has been done to pastures, but others have been far worse. One fire damaged a barn, and worse damage occurred in February when one farmer lost 40-head of cattle when they were trapped by fire on his land.
Over the past seven months, 15 fires have been found burning or in ashes. What makes the fires so significant is that they are all being set on private land. "We did have one gentleman that lost 40 head of cattle back in February because the fire was on his pasture land, and we couldn't get the cattle out in time," says Tillman County Sheriff Bobby Whittington. "So, he took a pretty significant hit."
For residents living in the area, destructive fires not only means they're paying more money out of pocket, but also food from their tables. "Driving down you just see grassland out there," says Whittington. "To the normal person it may not mean anything, but to the people here in Tillman County that's their life's blood." He says they can't quite pin down the person - or people - striking the croplands, but he says he has interviewed a person of interest. "We've lacked any other type of evidence to tie him to that crime," says Whittington.
The investigation is far from over. Officials are trying to find evidence that will officially link all the fires, and solidly prove that they are arson. If you have any information about these fires, or if you see anything suspicious in rural areas, call the Tillman County Sheriff's Department at 580-335-5566.