‘This is a dangerous game someone is playing:’ Following several grass fires, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office seeks public’s help

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The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public for help regarding several recent grass fires that “are considered suspicious in nature at this time,” according to a news release.

The fires have generally occurred in the same area southeast of Lawrence and south of Eudora to the Johnson County line, according to the release. They’re considered suspicious “(d)ue to the similar nature and timing of the fires that tend to cluster around the same location.”

“Thankfully none of the fires so far have caused considerable damage to property or injured anyone, but because they are suspicious in nature and with their location near Kansas Highway 10, this is a dangerous game someone is playing,” Sheriff Jay Armbrister said in the release. “We want these to stop, and we are asking for the community’s assistance in this investigation.”

Investigators for DGSO are asking for help from community members who might have seen any suspicious activity or vehicles in the area of the fires, which are listed below.

“I have spoken with many of the citizens in the area and can say that I fully understand your concerns,” Fire Chief Mike Baxter, of Consolidated Fire District No. 1, said in the release. “We have increased our daily staffing and started patrols of the area for a faster response with more resources. We ask that if you see any smoke, fire or anything suspicious, to please call 911 immediately.”

The primary response agency has been Douglas County Consolidated Fire District No. 1, with mutual-aid assistance from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, Eudora Fire Department, Northwest Consolidated Fire District of Johnson County and Palmyra Fire District No. 2, according to the release. The agencies are working with the Office of the State Fire Marshal on the investigation, and the Kansas Highway Patrol has assisted, according to the release.

“Anyone with potential information to assist investigators can contact the Sheriff’s Office, 785-841-0007, or Douglas County Crime Stoppers, 785-843-TIPS (8477), where callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward,” according to the release.

The list of recent fires is as follows, according to DGSO:

• Sept. 25 – Several grass fires along K-10 in the area of East 1900 Road.
• Sept. 29 – Eight fires in the afternoon in the 1400 block to 2400 block of North 1100 Road.
• Oct. 6 – Five fires in the afternoon in the 1500 block to the 2400 block of North 1100 Road.
• Oct. 10 – Seven fires started within 30 minutes of each other between the 1400 block of North 1100 Road and the Johnson County line.
Oct. 17 – Three fires started within minutes of each other between the 1700 block and the 2100 block of North 900 Road.
• Oct. 21 – A grass fire in the 1800 block of North 1000 Road.

A burn ban is in effect for the unincorporated areas of Douglas County through Oct. 24.

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