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$5k reward offered for info on likely arson in Allegan State Game Area

Posted at 10:48 AM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 10:48:26-04

VALLEY TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are asking for the public’s help investigating a suspected arson from last weekend.

Allegan County Central Dispatch received a report just after 5 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 26 from a helicopter crew flying over the Allegan State Game Area of a “significant fire,” according to a news release Thursday.

It was south of 116th Avenue and east of 46th Street in Valley Township.

Crews said the fire was consuming large logs, which turned out to be two decks of cut timber, each about 30 feet tall by 150 feet long – and all of it nearly burned to the ground.

“Although the investigation is ongoing, initial evidence suggests arson,” said Sgt. Charles Towns with the DNR’s law enforcement division. “This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

Over the past five years, just 4% of fires the DNR has responded to have been determined to be arson-related.

Authorities believe the fire started between 10 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday.

Fire suppression efforts began with the Clyde Township Fire Department – which provides coverage for Valley Township – and were led by the DNR’s fire personnel. DNR conservation officers and the fire departments of Fennville, Allegan District and Lee Township provided assistance.

Billsby Lumber Company, which originally purchased the timber involved, is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

The lost timber is estimated to be worth between $30,000 to $35,000.