Kennett FD looking into series of “suspicious” structure fires

KENNETT, MO (KAIT) - Firefighters are investigating a series of arson fires in Kennett after a vacant home burned Monday night.

The fire Monday night at the house located in the 300 block of East 4th Street was the second time the house caught fire.  Kennett Fire Department Assistant Chief David Horton said the incident is the sixth fire that has happened in the city since November 2011 when the Kennett Country Club burned to the ground.

"They have been at both commercial properties and some of the abandoned residential properties that we have here in Kennett," Chief Horton said.

Gib Ennis still plays golf at the Kennett Country Club. He said he does not know why someone would torch the building that had been a landmark in the community for decades. "The club, particularly for weddings and class reunions, it was used a lot."

Assistant Chief Horton can think of a few reasons. "Could be someone thinks they're doing the community a service by getting rid of some of the derelict properties, it may be arson for profit," he said.

"Arson may be to cover up a crime. Someone has gone in and vandalized the house and not wanting leave any evidence, sometimes they think they could burn them and get rid of the evidence and throw the law enforcement officers off track."

Horton said investigators are looking to the public for tips because there are no suspects in the ongoing arson investigations.

"These are crimes that someone is committing against the citizens of Kennett. It may be an abandoned building, may be of no value someone may think, but the city is expending resources, they're burning up time, manpower, and also when we put firefighters out there we're putting their lives at risk."

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering a reward for $10,000 for tips that lead to an arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the Kennett Country Club fire, in addition to a $5,000 reward from the Missouri State Fire Marshal's office.

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