State forestry officials investigate possible arson off of Fiddler's Branch Road

By Julie Fann
star staff

Officials with the state's Agriculture Crimes Unit are investigating a possible arson that occurred on two acres of land off of Fiddler's Branch Road Sunday afternoon, a forestry technician with the Tennessee Division of Forestry said Monday.
   "A landowner discovered the fire at approximately 3:30 p.m. after he returned home from doing some work on the property. He said he smelled smoke and went back up there and saw the fire and called 911," said James Heaton of the TDOF. The land is located near Tiger Creek in the Clarktown community. Authorities were not releasing the landowner's name and address because the fire remains under investigation.
   The Hampton Volunteer Fire Department and the TDOF responded to the scene. Heaton said some of the heavier material was still burning Monday and that firefighters put a line around the property using bulldozers. The fire spread over two acres of timber cut logs and debris, which easily fuel flames.
   "He (the landowner) said the fire had a suspicious origin. He has his ideas about what started it, but I can't give out that information. We just don't know right now," Heaton said.
   Despite dry weather, few fires have occurred in Carter County this spring. Heaton said nearly half of the fires that occur are due to arson.
   "Arson is something we encounter often. A lot of times they happen because there's a grudge against the landowner. For instance, maybe the landowner won't let people hunt on his land. I'm not saying that's what happened here," Heaton said. "There are a lot of different reasons. Boredom is also a reason for arson. Some people just want to see a mountain burn."