Investigators with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Agriculture Crime Unit, along with authorities in Sequatchie and Monroe Counties and the State Fire Marshal’s office have arrested two people suspected in separate arson cases.
Matthew Ryan Wallace, age 27 of Tuscaloosa, Ala. is accused of igniting a wildfire along Standifer Grant Road in Sequatchie County yesterday. He is charged with setting fire to personal property or land, a Class E felony, punishable with up to 6 years incarceration and a fine of up to $3000.
Monroe County Deputies arrested Charles Edward Martin, age 50 of Madisonville, Tenn. yesterday for deliberately setting a fire along Gamble Road. He is charged with setting fire to personal property or land, reckless burning and resisting arrest.
These arrests come just as the state’s arson reward fund grows. The Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation and the Tennessee Forestry Association have committed donations to the fund. Now, citizens may receive as much as $2500 for a tip that leads to an arson arrest and conviction.
The arson hotline is 1-800-762-3017 and is answered 24 hours a day. You can also report arson activity to the TDA Ag Crime Unit at 1-844-AGCRIME (1-844-242-7463). Callers may remain anonymous.
This year to date, about 1,238 wildfires have burned across the state. Almost 50% of those are suspected arson.
Due to the ongoing drought and destructive wildfires, Governor Bill Haslam has ordered a regional burn ban for East Tennessee. An Agriculture Commissioner’s burn ban is in effect for two counties outside of that region, Sumner and Robertson. A violation of a burn ban is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months 29 days in jail.
Current county burn bans and wildfire safety tips and information can be found on the TDA Division of Forestry’s wildfire prevention website at www.burnsafetn.org.