Sunday, August 24 2014 12:56 AM EDT2014-08-24 04:56:42 GMT
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MORRISTOWN, TN (WATE) - The Hamblen County Sheriff's Department is offering a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of any suspects involved in the recent fires in the Anderson Bend Road area.
There have been 7 fires set since February with 3 in April alone. All of the fires have been set in fields and wooded areas along Anderson Bend Road, affecting 50 to 60 acres of TVA property, as well as personally owned property. As of today, no structures have been affected by the blazes.
In some places there are still hot spots, flames from the last fire got a little too close to Ron Schauinger's home.
"They were worried about it coming over the top of the mountain and coming down on us. That was the worst one," he said.
Schauinger says he's on edge because of the 7 fires in his neighborhood, "I'm mad. I'm disgusted because there's better things to do with your time then go and try and ruin someone else's property or someone else's life."
The Hamblen County Sheriff's Department Detective Division is working with Shane Ratliff, an investigator with the Tennessee Agriculture Crime Unit. These fires have tied up the North, East, West, and South Hamblen County Fire Departments, as well as the State Forestry Division.
The Hamblen County Sheriff's Department believes these fires were started by someone, calling it arson because Anderson Bend is a dead end road.
"Some fires would have to have been set by someone doing a lot of hiking into the area," said Sheriff Esco Jarnagin.
Investigators have not found any incendiary devices used to set these blazes; however, with the recent dry conditions it would not take much to start a fire.
"It's almost like whoever is doing it is saying 'Here's in your face, catch me if you can.'" said Sheriff Jarnagin.
Homeowners say they're worried things could get worse.
"It seems like every fire they set keeps getting closer and closer to the house," added Schauinger.
The Hamblen County Sheriff's Department Detective Division is hoping the $1,000 reward being offered through the Tennessee Arson Hotline will encourage local citizens to report any suspicious activity in the area so that this arsonist(s) may be apprehended before they hurt themselves, a first responder, or anyone else unlucky enough to be in the area.
Sheriff Jarnagin says the suspect would have to pay thousands in restitution and could face jail time.
Anyone with information should call the Tennessee Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017