Arson suspected at Mich. harvest site

Reward offered as authorities seek more information

Law enforcement officers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are seeking the public’s help as they investigate potential arson as the cause of a large fire at a timber harvest site in a forest area in Allegan County, in Southwest Michigan.

The fire consumed two decks of cut timber “each approximately 30 feet tall by 150 feet long-- and all of it nearly burned to the ground,” according to a statement from the DNR.

“Although the investigation is ongoing, initial evidence suggests arson,” said Sgt. Charles Towns, with the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

The fire was discovered by a helicopter crew flying over the area on Sept. 26. The fire is believed to have been started that night between 10 p.m. and 2 am. Several area fire departments played a role in suppressing the fire led by DNR fire personnel.

Anyone having knowledge of how the fire started was asked to call a DNR hotline at 800-292-7800. Messages can be left anonymously if callers choose to do so. Text messages can also be sent to that number.

The DNR also said that Billsby Lumber, the original buyer of the timber, has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any individuals responsible for the arson.

“Timber harvests – along with tree planting, habitat projects, prescribed burns and other efforts – are one way the DNR takes care of Michigan’s forests for current and future generations,” the DNR said in a statement in requesting public assistance.

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