SALEM, Ohio — Two blazes that robbed Wellsville-area farm families of bank barns earlier this month are still under investigation, but the state ruled last week the September fire that claimed three barns and hundreds of tons of hay and straw at L.J. Hay in Kensington was, indeed, arson.
It was previously reported that the hay broker’s fire, in the early morning of Sept. 19, also claimed a semi-tractor, aluminum trailer and other equipment.
In addition, the Division of State Fire Marshal said Oct. 8 a vacant home burned the same day as the Wellsville barns was also arson, as were three camper fires set nearby just two days before.
The rash of blazes has state and local investigators asking for help in finding those responsible for the fires.
“Given the number of fires in close proximity in such a short amount of time, we believe someone has information that can help investigators,” said State Fire Marshal Michael Bell.
State fire marshal’s investigators have ruled a total of five fires fought in Columbiana County since Sept. 19 were intentionally set, or arson.
While the cause of the other three fires — the two barns, and a garage near Irondale — remains undetermined, investigators believe the cause is most likely arson, due to similarities revealed during the investigations.
The similarities of the eight fires include the time that the fires ignited and the location of each blaze.
Anyone with information on any of the fires in the county should call the state fire marshal’s hotline at 800-589-2728.
The state is offering a reward up to $5,000 for information that leads investigators to the person responsible for the fires.