Arson being looked at as cause of Tom Sawyer Park fire

By Shayla Reaves - bio | email
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Arson investigators returned to the scene of a massive fire at E.P. Sawyer Park. It happened just before 7 p.m. July 15 with smoke visible for several miles.

On Friday, investigators posted signs asking anyone with information to call 1-800-27-ARSON. Major Henry Ott of the Louisville Metro Arson Squad said witnesses described seeing people running from the park not long before the fire began.

"We understand it was three white male subjects the first time and two white male subjects the second time," said Ott of a description from witnesses. "We don't know if they're the same group of people or not, approximate ages 14 to 17."

According to Ott, the fire happened weeks before a deal was finalized between Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges and the Kentucky State Government for the property. Investigators are not saying there is any connection but they are not ruling anything out.

"KCTCS used to use that for one of their school programs and they are no more or less trading that to the state parks system for some property up at Butler State Park," Ott said of the deal.

Hot temperatures, dry conditions and the barn filled with hay created challenges for firefighters on the scene Thursday. Middletown Fire Protection District Chief Jeffrey Riddle said wind would have created ideal conditions for the fire to spread to nearby woods. Riddle described the biggest problem as high grass.

"It's overgrown and of course budget cuts, one thing they cut is grass cutting and maintenance of areas that they don't use. This is one of those," Riddle said. "Locating the hydrants, we had them on our map books. We had a proximity of where they're at, but to actually find that hydrant is difficult."

The work still isn't over for arson investigators.

"We're not used to working on barn fires and old agricultural properties so that's a little bit different," Ott said. "It's kind of a remote location so there's not a lot of people around and so we're hoping to develop some information." 

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