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Task force investigating suspicious fires in and near Burnet County

Mahomet Christian Church

Officials haven’t determined the cause of a fire that destroyed Mahomet Christian Church on Dec. 9, but a task force of local, state, and federal investigators are investigating it as a possible arson. It’s one of 17 blazes since April that the task force is investigating. Photo courtesy of Scott Wall

A task force of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies is investigating a string of suspicious fires in Burnet County dating to April. The latest blaze destroyed the historic Mahomet Christian Church.

“The cause of (the church fire) is still under investigation, however, it is being investigated as an arson,” according to a Burnet County Sheriff’s Office media release. “This structure fire adds to the list of suspicious fires which have occurred in unincorporated areas of Burnet County, the city of Burnet and the Lampasas area.”

On Dec. 9, several fire departments and sheriff’s deputies responded to the fire at the church, located in the 10,000 block of FM 243 East near the U.S. 281 intersection. BCSO investigators, the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Bertram Volunteer Fire Department marshal are investigating the cause.

It is one of 17 blazes in the area being investigated.

“This apparent series of fires is believed to have begun in late April of this year and has continued through the present,” the BCSO release stated. “To date, there are up to 17 fires that may or may not be related to one another.”

Officials said four of the fires happened within the city of Burnet, while two were in the city of Lampasas. The remaining fires were in unincorporated areas of Burnet County, and most of those involved unoccupied buildings in the north-central part of the county.

A task force consisting of investigators from the BCSO, Burnet Police Department, State Fire Marshal’s Office, fire marshals from Burnet, Bertram, and Lampasas, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Rangers, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is looking into the fires.

Law enforcement agencies are asking the public’s help in identifying any persons of interest or suspicious activities.

“Obviously, law enforcement cannot be everywhere at all times, so we’re asking specifically: if you see suspicious vehicles or persons in your area please report those to the sheriff’s office immediately with as much detail as possible,” according to the BCSO statement. “Also, if you have any security footage for the Mahomet area that you believe will be of use, please contact us immediately.”

People can reach the sheriff’s office at 512-756-8080 or cidadmin@burnetsheriff.com

Tips also can be submitted to the Hill Country Area Crime Stoppers at 1-866-756-8477 or through its website. All tips are kept confidential and could be eligible for a cash reward.

The city of Burnet is offering up to a $10,000 reward for information leading to the identification and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for the fires within its city limits.

The BCSO is also asking people who may be responsible for a building that’s not routinely occupied, or if they live or work near one, to be particularly alert for suspicious activity. 

“The task force recommends deploying cameras, guard lights, or any other security measures that are feasible on such structures,” officials stated. “If you note suspicious activity, please call the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Mahomet Christian Church congregation and community rebuild the church. 

editor@thepicayune.com