Moultrie Observer

Local News

October 31, 2012

Cotton fire may be arson

MOULTRIE — A Monday night blaze that destroyed an estimated $77,000 worth of cotton outside a ginning facility and took volunteer firefighters five hours to contain is under investigation.

A Funston Gin Co. driver reported to the owner that he saw at least two people running from the area outside the facility where the cotton modules caught fire at about 9:45 p.m., Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office reports said.

The sheriff’s office is investigating the blaze at the 161 Funston-Sale City Road facility, which was spread and intensified by strong winds, as a possible case of arson.

The fire that damaged or destroyed 14 cotton modules stored for ginning moved from one module to the next with ease, sheriff’s Inv. Mike Murfin said.

“Anybody that knows anything about cotton, in that wind yesterday the least little spark will set if off,” he said. “We don’t know if it was done intentionally or accidentally at this point.”

Funston volunteer firefighters took the lead in extinguishing the stubborn blaze and were assisted by others from Bay, Doerun, Northside and Westside. They were at the scene until about 2:30 a.m.

A single module can contain as much as 20,000 pounds of cotton or more, Colquitt County Extension agent Glenn Beard said.

Dry cotton burns readily, and unginned cotton has seeds in it that contain a high concentration of oil that would help fuel a blaze, he said.

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