Arson suspected in Bakersfield trailer fire

Arson is suspected in a Saturday fire that destroyed a vacant house trailer on Water Tower Street in Bakersfield that stood roughly 100 yards from a vacant house that burned about a year ago under similarly suspicious circumstances. 

This week’s Ozark County Sheriff’s report shows that a call came in at 8:42 a.m. Saturday from a woman who said “a trailer on her property was burned to the ground last night.” The report says the caller “does not want an investigation” but only wanted it on record. An entry at 4:25 p.m. says the Bakersfield Volunteer Fire Department was contacting the state fire marshal about the fire, which had caused damage to Centurylink lines and a Howell-Oregon Electric Co-op transformer. 

Bakersfield VFD assistance chief Lloyd “Punk” Stone told the Times Monday that, after talking to BVFD chief Greg Watts about the fire, the fire marshal declined to come to the scene, believing the structure was probably “too far gone” to determine the cause.

However, Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Hannaford photographed the site and said Monday night that he was writing a report about the incident that would be turned over to Chief Deputy Winston Collins, who would determine whether the department would continue to investigate. The report and photographs were not available at press time.  

Stone said Monday that the structure, on Water Tower Street on the north side of Highway 101 in Bakersfield, was a “trailer that had been added on to.” The ruins were “smouldering” when firefighters arrived, he said. 

He thinks the trailer house was abandoned five or six years ago. “People had already knocked the windows out and stole the copper out of it before it burned,” he said. The nearby home on Water Tower Drive that burned a year ago was in the same shape before it burned, he said. Both houses were unoccupied, and neither house had electricity. “We figured it was arson,” Stone said.

The latest fire was about a quarter mile from the BVFD firehouse. “It’s kind of odd,” Stone said, “because when both of those houses burned, nobody knew about it until afterward. We never got a call about either one of those fires. But you come down off that hill a little ways, and we’ve been called out in the middle of the night for ‘suspicious fires’ that turn out to be something like a firepit in someone’s backyard or something little like that. But those two houses burn in the night, and nobody saw anything.”

Ozark County Times

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