Burnet County authorities have their hands full with a string of suspected arsons which has prompted them to pool investigative resources with local, regional and state agencies to find the culprits.
The arson task force is investigating everything from an historic church and an auction barn to unoccupied residences and abandoned buildings, officials said.
The most recent blaze on Dec. 9 destroyed an historic church in Mahomet, located at 10451 FM 243 in northeast Burnet County. The incident became number 17 on the list of suspicious fires, according to the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office.
“The cause of this fire is still under investigation however, the incident is being investigated as an arson,” stated Burnet County Capt. Chris Jett in a press release. “This structure fire adds to the list of suspicious fires which have occurred in unincorporated areas of Burnet County, the city of Burnet and the Lampasas area.
“This apparent series of fires is believed to have begun in late April of this year and has continued through to the present,” he continued. “Four of those fires have occurred in the city of Burnet, two occurred in the city of Lampasas, and the remaining have occurred in the unincorporated areas of Burnet County.”
The bulk of the structures were unoccupied and in the north central part of the county. One of the incidents involved the Kifaru Exotic Bird Auction Barn May 23 on U.S. 183 in Watson.
Several agencies from surrounding counties have responded to the fires.
The spate of fires, resulting in the activation of the arson task force, includes entities such as the sheriff’s office, State Fire Marshal’s Office, local fire marshals from Burnet, Bertram and Lampasas, Texas DPS, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and Texas Rangers.
BCSO is asking the public to be on the lookout for suspicious people and vehicles and to submit surveillance video from various locations on the days of the incidents.
For owners of properties that may be unattended, officials offered a word of advice.
“The task force recommends deploying cameras, guard lights or any other security measures that are feasible on such structures,” Jett stated.
Offer tips to BCSO at 512-756-8080 or cidadmin@ burnetsherificom. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, callers may also call Hill Country Area CrimeStoppers at 1-866-756-8477 or www.hillcountryareacrimestoppers.com or the State Fire Marshal Tip Line at 1-877-434-7345
The city of Burnet has offered up to $10,000 in reward money for tips leading to the identification and prosecution of the person(s) responsible for fires in their city limits.