Arsonist Sought In Vineyard Fire Near Vinita

Thursday, March 19th 2009, 4:25 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

CRAIG COUNTY, OK -- A reward is now being offered to help find the person who set fire to a vineyard northeast of Vinita.

The vineyard should be green and budding with new growth. Instead, the vines are dry and brittle.

It wasn't caused by weather. Instead, an arsonist is to blame.

"When the deputy got out here, he could still smell diesel, and they poured diesel on each place trying to set it on fire," said B.J. Floyd, Craig County undersheriff.

In November, a vandal poured diesel fuel up and down every single row and set it on fire. The extent of the damage wasn't known until now, when spring is just a short time away.

Floyd says in addition to killing vines, the fire melted most of the vineyard's irrigation system. The damage adds up to thousands of dollars in lost vines, time and effort.

"It's heartbreaking for them because this is their deal," Floyd said. "They love doing this."

One of the only clue investigators have in the case is that deputies discovered tire tracks leading to the vineyard. They belong to a dually pickup truck.

Investigators hope getting the word out about the fire will generate new information and leads.

"We need the help of anybody that seen somebody out here at that time period," Floyd said.

Anyone with information should contact the Craig County Sheriff's Office at (918) 256-6466.