20K Reward Offered For Info On Suspicious Fires

A reward has been doubled in hopes of catching a homicidal serial arsonist who has Cottonwood residents on edge. Nearly twenty structure fires and vegetation fires are believed to be connected to the same person or people. Most of the fires have been set between 3AM and 5AM at homes occupied by elderly residents. Early the morning of October 7th Cottonwood Fire Protection District responded to a house fire on Willow Street. It was the home of 86-year-old Barcie Arlene Miller, who was found dead inside. At about the same time a shed was set on fire in the backyard of a home very close by on Hickory Street. Exactly one week later a series of seven intentional roadside vegetation fires that started at 3AM had firefighters scrambling around the Cottonwood area. No structures were damaged in that series of fires. Shasta County Arson Task Force and the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit have been investigating. In the meantime, Cottonwood Fire Chief Bill Morgan says residents are scared and their doing what they can. A number of people are sitting vigil overnight, armed and silently watching for anything suspicious. Others have been expressing a lot of frustration, but there are more questions than answers. Chief Morgan says the small town has many long-time multi-generation residents who have known each other all their lives. Anyone who lives in the Cottonwood area and has video surveillance is asked to contact detectives at 245-6135. The Secret Witness Reward is now $20,000 for anonymous tips at 243-2319.

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