STATELINE, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- Officials say someone has been intentionally starting fires around the Lake Tahoe Basin the last few weeks. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office, along with other agencies in the area, are actively looking for a possible arsonist.
According to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, in the last two weeks, four different small brush fires have been started near hiking trails in the lower Kingsbury area, from Zephyr Cove to Stateline. Officials are not sure about a motive. "We believe it's the same person based on the (method of operation) and the location of the fires and the relatively small area," said Douglas County Undersheriff Paul Howell.
Howell said the department believes the arsonist is a local resident, but the investigation is ongoing. "So someone out there, immediately in view near the trail is where they're starting the fires."
The Tahoe Douglas Fire Department has been able to quickly stop all four fires, so no major damaged occurred. "Most of these we were able to stop while they were small," said Fire Marshal Eric Guevin. "So that was obviously a concern for us, and we were able to get reports right away, get to them right away and extinguish them."
One of the biggest concerns for officials is the region's third year of drought. A small brush fire in the area could quickly turn into a raging wildfire. "It’s very concerning to us, we've had a very light winter, very low precipitation, so that’s a concern to us," said Guevin. "The fuels are very dry and this can cause us to lose our beauty of the lake, lake quality, and homes, and life safety of individuals."
The Sheriff's Office also said its unknown if there is more than one perpetrator. But if you do see anyone suspicious near hiking trails in the lower Kingsbury area, you are asked to immediately call 911. "They don't necessarily have to see someone lighting a fire, but for the residents who live and work up there, they should be used to who’s in the area, who’s not," said Howell.
The Sheriff's Office said the arsonist could potentially face a felony charge, with one to four years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. The consequences could change if the criminal starts any more fires.
Secret Witness is also offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible.