Fires severely damage hay and homes across county


The Free Press

Arson is suspected in the burning of 1,600 to 1,800 big bales of hay valued at $175,000 Saturday night at a location one-half mile north of 160th on Old Mill Road, Marion County Sheriff Lee Becker said Monday.

Becker said his office has identified a “person of interest” in the case. He expected to investigate further Tuesday with a representative from the state fire marshall’s office.

The hay belonged to Eldon Wiens and was located on 10 acres of land he leased from Marion County.

Becker said the estimated loss is for the product only, and does not reflect the loss of income Wiens might have had in his business of trucking hay.

According to sheriff’s reports, the fire was reported at 10:45 p.m. Marion Fire Department was first on the scene at 10:59 p.m.

Units of the Peabody and Hillsboro fire departments also responded, with sheriff’s officers and Peabody and Hillsboro ambulances also responding.

In a second probably unrelated fire, Becker said 30 big bales belonging to Dennis Wilson near Peabody burned between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Monday.

Becker said a dollar amount hadn’t been fixed on that fire.

The hay fires were followed by a house fire at 6:28 a.m. Monday with Tampa Fire Department and the Marion Ambulance responding at the Troy Madron home at 220 Chicago in Lost Springs.

Becker said there was extensive damage to the home.

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