Ralls Cotton Fires Under Suspicion - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/20/06

Ralls Cotton Fires Under Suspicion

A Texas State Fire Marshal counted 521 cotton bales to be lost in Friday morning's fire. It is estimated those bales were worth $150,000. Fire investigators think someone may be responsible for that.

Jose Resendez was working his night watch shift at Trinity Compress located in Ralls when the fire started. "I saw the bales engulfed on the top and the flames were shooting up over it," he said. By 2:30 a.m., the fire was quickly burning, catching up to 521 bales of cotton on fire. Jose had already called 9-1-1. "I was nervous. There were quite a bit of bales on fire," said Jose, who is also a volunteer firefighter for the Ralls Volunteer Fire Department.

Three volunteer fire departments, Lorenzo, Ralls, and Crosbyton, put the fire out in six hours. By the afternoon (Friday) when all was settled, investigators were calling the fire "suspicious" because of a similar fire just days earlier.

On Tuesday around 2:30 a.m., Ralls fire officials got a call that 17 cotton modules caught fire. Now investigators believe that one was also suspicious.

Owens Co-op gin of Ralls had put the modules on a piece of property just south of Ralls. Now, three days after the fire, Owens Co-op tells NewsChannel 11 they are offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. The number to call is (806) 675-7301.

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