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Evidence Collected From Several Galena Arson Fires in One Night - KOAM TV 7

Evidence Collected From Several Galena Arson Fires in One Night

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GALENA, KANSAS -

Galena police and a Kansas state fire investigator are pulling together as much evidence as they can after five fires last night.  Officials believe the fires were a case of arson.  They say they were set near North Main Street, in a remote area of Galena where other fires have happened over the past few years.

"For a small town, big deal," says Galena Fire Chief Bill Hall.

Hall has been Galena's fire chief for 35 years.  He knows the area and its people.  When a police officer thought someone accidentally dropped their cigarette, starting a fire...

"I said no, someone has torched this," says Hall.

Hall had the feeling there was a long Thursday night ahead.

"I told the officer, I said beware.  Be very alert," says Hall.

By Friday morning, there were four other fires within three-quarters of a mile from each other.

"We've had some traffic coming through here recently that the Galena Police Department has been made aware of, and they have been trying to do extra patrols in this area," says Kansas State Fire Investigator Mike Tippie.

More than 2,000 railroad ties in one location...

"At least ten to 12 feet high, stacked high, and a good 100 feet in length," says Hall...

...Reduced to a pile of about two-feet high embers.

"Our guys are volunteers, so they have a daytime job," says Hall.  "It's hard on them.  I feel bad for them, because they're tired."

Tippie has a couple of warnings to whoever set the fires.  Officials in this area know all about evidence and science.

"For a cigarette to start dry grass on fire, there's a specific humidity level that it has to be below," says Tippie.

Tippie lives near Galena.

"And I can be here pretty fast," says Tippie.

You never know what area Tippie will be surveilling.  So while the five fires were a big deal in the small town of Galena, officials say it'll be an even bigger deal when suspects are arrested.  

Hall says no more than three acres of land were burned, but he worries that if the suspect isn't caught, future fires may impact bigger areas of land, possibly even buildings.

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