An early morning fire near the Hunt-Delta County line may be related to a string of fires in Delta County currently being investigated as arson, a Hunt County fire investigator said Friday.

Deputy Fire Marshal Mike Pierce said the fire, which broke out around 1 a.m. on Highway 50 in Hunt County, is being investigated as an arson and may have been started by a serial arsonist, who has apparently been setting fires around Delta County.

“There is definitely someone going around setting hay bales and some of these old abandoned houses in the area (on fire),” he said.

Pierce said the home that burned Friday morning was abandoned and firefighters with the Commerce Fire Department were able to contain the blaze. No one was injured.

“It had to be an arson,” he said. “Someone had to set that fire. Anytime you have a number of fires that are set with no source of ignition around, someone has to set that fire unless there is an electrical storm.”

He noted it was lucky that the strong winds Hunt County had been experiencing for most of the week had died down by the time the fire started.

“With the winds we’ve had, any fires could get away and, boy, that could really set off a wildfire.”

Pierce said he has contacted the Delta County Sheriff’s Department, which is currently investigating several fires that have apparently been set in Delta County, because he noted some similarities between Friday’s fire and those he had heard about in Delta County. He also plans to talk to the Commerce and Wolfe City fire departments to see if there have been any other fires in the area matching the pattern.

“I don’t know for sure (yet) if they’re connected, but it’s in that same area,” he said.

Delta County Fire Investigator Harold Watkins said he could not speculate if the fire is related to those started in Delta County, but confirmed that there have been “fires starting in unexplained places” around his county.

“We have had some suspicious activity,” he said.

Pierce said it does not appear that the general public should be overly concerned about the fires because occupied homes have not been set on fire — just hay bales and empty homes.

“I don’t think it’s anything the general public has to worry about,” he said.

But Pierce said people should make sure they have working smoke detectors in their homes and if warned that if people are cleaning out wood-burning or coal-burning stoves or heaters they should place debris in metal containers and to store them away from combustible materials because several accidental fires this past week have been caused by sparks from hot coals that appear cool.

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