‘This is unprecedented’: Arsonists responsible for 42 fires in about 3 months time, Atascosa County Sheriff says

Sheriff is offering a $5,000 cash reward for any information that leads to an arrest

SAN ANTONIO – A serial arsonist is on the loose in Atascosa County, according to the Atascosa County Sheriff.

Investigators believe the person or people are responsible for 42 fires in roughly three months time. They say the arsonist could be connected to other fires as well, but they just don’t have enough evidence.

“It’s the definition of a serial arsonist, I’ve seen similar cases in the past of a serial arsonist, but here we’re up to 42... this is unprecedented,” Atascosa County Sheriff David Soward said.

Soward said the 42 fires occurred between April 21 and July 26 and stretch across a 25-mile radius around the county. He said the majority are just grass and brush fires, but a handful have been by homes and structures. Luckily, no homes have been lost.

“It’s very concerning and I think we’re very fortunate that we haven’t had a fire that’s completely gotten out of control for an extended period of time,” Soward said.

Atascosa County resident Oscar Linares said his home was nearly taken out when a fire erupted on his property in June.

He said he told his wife and kids to leave while he tried plowing a burn break. He thanked a quick response from several fire departments for his home not having any damage.

“As you can tell it took off the top of the trees and these trees are a good 15 to 17 feet high. The fire was just coming so fast, and it was basically circling the property,” Linares said.

The sheriff is now offering a $5,000 cash reward for any information that leads to an arrest. He says the reward is only guaranteed until Wednesday, August 8, but information that comes in after could still be eligible for the reward.

The sheriff said the fire conditions due to high winds and drought make an already worried one even more dangerous.

“It’s nerve-wracking. Every time you hear a siren you look toward your property and you’re looking if there’s smoke,” Linares said.

About the Author

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

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