Pontotoc Co. sheriff offers reward for information leading to serial arsonist arrest

PONTOTOC COUNTY, Okla. (KXII) - The Pontotoc County Sheriff's Office is offering a reward for the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for setting fire to hundreds of acres of land.

Taylor Whitis has lived in his home near Roff since 2011.

"Dead grass and a little dry, (fire) could spread quickly, get people's houses, land, livestock in danger," Whitis said.

He and his neighbors are upset at the news the fires that have been burning in their area are believed to be intentionally set.

"It's immoral for people to do that," Whitis said. "I mean, land owners put a lot of effort and time and money into their place. And for somebody to set it afire, you know, it's just frustrating."

Sheriff John Christian said about 30 suspicious fires have burned around 700 acres of pasture and wild land in the south part of the county since last year, near the communities of Roff, Fitzhugh, Fittstown and Stonewall.

"We've got life, property that are being jeopardized by somebody that's getting their kicks out of committing a crime and setting fires," Christian said. "And we want to put a stop to it."

About 30 round bales of hay were burned in the fires, but no structures have been damaged or animals lost.

The sheriff's office is offering a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the ones responsible.

Christian said the suspect would face charges of third degree arson which can carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

Whitis said an arrest would be a relief.

"It'd be nice if it'd come to an end, for sure," Whitis said. "That way it won't get out of control and burn more stuff up."

Anyone with information on the fires is asked to call the Pontotoc County Sheriff's office at 580-332-4169.