Authorities are investigating three suspected cases of arson connected to construction of the controversial Bakken oil pipeline. Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty says the first call in his county came in just before six o’clock this morning. It led authorities to a site west of Newton.
“There were two pieces of equipment — a bulldozer and a large track hoe — that had been, we believe, intentionally set on fire,” he says.
That equipment was destroyed by the fire. At about 8:30 this morning, Jasper County authorities got a report that another piece of excavation equipment had been set on fire east of Reasnor.
“We’ve been informed that Mahaska County had some similar events,” Halferty says. “We are asking and encouraging the public to keep an eye on these sites for us and to report any suspicious activity. We’re also working with the pipeline contractors as well.”
The sheriff says the fires this morning in his county caused $1 million worth of equipment damage. The fire at a work site in Mahaska County happened this weekend, near Oskaloosa. Authorities have no suspects.
The Dakota Access pipeline will cut diagonally across the state, carrying North Dakota crude oil to a refinery in Illinois.
(Reporting by Randy Van, KCOB, Newton)