Burnin' for you
April 10, 2014 11:52 AM   Subscribe

The county vibrated with fire engines groaning over gravel driveways. The county vibrated with suspicion. The county went about its business. The county burned down. People assumed that the culprit must be someone who lived among them, and people would be right. It would be a love story.

The family kept chickens in a pen attached to the garage, and as Gomez watched her property burn, she realized that whoever set the fire had taken the time to let out all the birds, which were now running around the lawn at 4 a.m.

It was a strange time to live in the neighborhood.
Only 17 percent of arsonists are ever caught.
posted by maggieb (11 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Was a very interesting read (read it online yesterday), but the print version, with pictures and layout etc was very well done.

I'm close enough to the area that I remember the coverage from local to national on all the fires. It was a big deal, and the relief when they ended.

The article ultimately doesn't seem to satisfactorily answer the question. I think both were in on it, but TFA really seems to be leaving it as a "we may never know" he-said/she-said mystery.
posted by k5.user at 12:02 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]

Only 17 percent of arsonists are ever caught.

What we think we know about arsonists is really what we know about a tiny minority of arsonists.
posted by tommasz at 12:32 PM on April 10

Only 17 percent of arsonists are ever caught.

In the rural Indiana county where my father grew up there were a number of massive antique dairy barns. They don't raise many dairy cows around those parts these days and besides, the barns themselves are so full of lead paint and other hazzards that they aren't legally usable for anything other than parking your tractor. The farmers hate them. They take up a whole acre of tillable land that could otherwise be used to grow crops that are selling for a premium these days. To get rid of the barns, because of the hazzards and lead, takes a special remediation and EPA permitting. This is expensive and time consuming.

Coincidentally there is a deranged arsonist on the loose in the rural Indiana county my father grew up on whose sick mind has it in for massive antique dairy barns. This sick bastard will stop at nothing to fulfill his lust for fire and destruction, even going so far as to move tractors and parked farm equipment out of the barn before setting them ablaze (strangely the fires often coincide with times when the farmers have accidentally left the barn unlocked and the keys to machinery in the lock). Fire officials are baffled by the rash of arsons that have been going on now for years, since just about the time new lead paint remediation regulations went up.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:12 PM on April 10 [20 favorites]

I found that really sad.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:19 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]

I tried ti imagine this as an AskMe question, but no matter how it was phrased, or which one of them was asking, most answers would be of the DTMFA sort.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:26 PM on April 10

Fast forward 10 years, when the kids in the rural Indiana county where The 10th Regiment of Foot's father grew up show an incredible spike in birth defects, mental deficits, and skeletal problems.

But, Big Gubmint forcing those farmers to not fuck up the air with their poisonous barns is a real big problem.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:57 PM on April 10 [5 favorites]

Conveniently enough, there's a growing market for furniture made from wood from massive antique dairy barns. My brother built out his new restaurant with wood from old barns in southern Wisconsin. Upcycling, right?
posted by suelac at 2:15 PM on April 10 [2 favorites]

suelac: great idea, as long as there's no pesky lead paint all over
posted by el io at 4:09 PM on April 10

People used to preserve fences and unpainted barns by painting them with used motor oil. Until maybe the early 90s this was utterly commonplace. I knew people who gave all the wood on their property a nice coat of 3W10 each spring for probably 60 years. It soaks in within days and you don't know it's there after a couple weeks but it keeps the rot and the bugs at bay perfectly.

I see old barn wood being sold for re-use and it makes me wonder if people know they're filling their house with giant firelighters.
posted by fshgrl at 4:45 PM on April 10 [1 favorite]

To get rid of the barns, because of the hazzards and lead, takes a special remediation and EPA permitting. This is expensive and time consuming.

wow - i'm from michigan and i've wondered for years why so many of these awfully aged and decrepit barns aren't done away with - now i know - thanks
posted by pyramid termite at 5:39 PM on April 10 [2 favorites]

My brother in law moves ancient barns for a price, though it mostly happens in upstate NY. Somebody has to want the barn.

Our deputy chief has had a "controlled burn" with a decrepit house for a training exercise. There are options.
posted by childofTethys at 3:38 AM on April 11

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