Arson suspected in vehicle and structure fires

Friday, July 17, 2009 | 7:20 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Law enforcement officials suspect arson in connection with three fires that broke out late Thursday night and early Friday morning within a quarter mile of each other in northern Boone County and Randolph County.

Boone County deputies responded at 12:43 a.m. Friday to a vehicle fire near the junction of Highway 63 and Highway 22. The vehicle was destroyed, according to a news release from the Boone County Sheriff's Department.

At about the same time, a carload of children in a parking lot on the Boone County side of Highway 22 observed a commercial building on fire in nearby Randolph County, Randolph County Sheriff Mark Nichols said. The children's parents then called the police.

The concrete and wood building was uninsured and was a total loss, Nichols said. Three hay bails were also on fire near the building.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating another vehicle fire that was reported in the area at 10:42 p.m. Thursday. That vehicle was also destroyed.

No suspects have been named, Nichols said. He said there were no injuries in the fires.

The Boone and Randolph County Sheriff's Departments as well as the Missouri Highway Patrol are investigating the incident.

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