Government

Another arson incident suspected on Bakken pipeline equipment

It is the fourth suspected arson case in months

(File Photo) Heavy equipment was left charred in August at three construction sites along the Bakken pipeline route in Jasper and Mahaska counties after suspected arson over the weekend. The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and Newton Fire Marshal are investigating fires at sites west of Newton and southeast of Reasnor. Mahaska County law enforcement is looking into a similar fire at a site 8.5 miles north of Oskaloosa. (Mike Mendenhall/Newton Daily News)
(File Photo) Heavy equipment was left charred in August at three construction sites along the Bakken pipeline route in Jasper and Mahaska counties after suspected arson over the weekend. The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and Newton Fire Marshal are investigating fires at sites west of Newton and southeast of Reasnor. Mahaska County law enforcement is looking into a similar fire at a site 8.5 miles north of Oskaloosa. (Mike Mendenhall/Newton Daily News)

Police are investigating another incident of suspected arson after fires appear to have been intentionally set to construction equipment working on the Bakken pipeline.

It’s the fourth suspected arson on pipeline construction equipment in that area since August.

Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty said the incidents are being treated as connected arsons.

“I think we absolutely have to look at that given the fact that it was the same day of the week, it was the same location and it was the same type of equipment and the same construction project,” Halferty said. “We certainly can’t rule out that they’re separate, but I think right now, looking at all the factors we have to treat them as all being related.”

Jasper County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded at about 11:40 p.m. Saturday to a reported fire in rural Jasper County near the community of Reasnor, according to a Monday news release.

Following Saturday’s incident, Halferty said officials with Iowa State Fire Marshal reached out to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Federal Bureau of Investigations to join investigation.

Anyone with information on the incidents is encouraged to contact the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office at 641-792-5912.

A preliminary investigation indicates the fires were intentionally set to three bulldozers and one excavator. The equipment was being used by one of the companies contracted by Dakota Access to work on the Bakken pipeline project. The fire is estimated to have caused about $2 million in damage, the release states.

A Monday statement from Dakota Access LLC spokeswoman Vicki Granado indicates the company has established a vandalism hotline — 855-430-4491 — and is seeking information regarding the arson incidents or any other vandalism associated with the pipeline project.

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“These illegal actions have resulted in millions of dollars in damage,” the release states. “Dakota Access and Precision Pipeline are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.”

The incident is the fourth arson in the area since work began on the pipeline earlier this year.

Police said three fires reported earlier in the year in Jasper and Mahaska counties also appeared intentionally set and are expected to have caused around $1.5 million.

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