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Reward offered in crane arson case

VAN WERT – A reward has been offered in the case of a burned crane at a wind turbine site. Van Wert County Sheriff Stan D. Owens stated that Blattner Energy has authorized a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals involved in the incident.

Sometime between 4:30 p.m. on July 2 and 7:30 a.m. on July 3, at least two persons were involved in arson and vandalism at a wind turbine site near the intersection of John Yoh and Mohr roads. The Sheriff’s Office report states the vandalism appeared to have been caused by persons riding four-wheelers.

Speculation is that one of the vandals managed to start the crane and hooked up three gas-powered flood lights, swinging and dropping the lights. The cable of the crane was twisted and broken. Then a fire was started in the cab either directly under the seat or immediately behind it. A neighbor spotted the blaze in the morning hours of July 3 and called authorities. Grover Hill Fire Department responded to the fire, while the Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office conducted the on-scene investigation.

Along with the complete loss of the crane and the flood lights, other items were reported missing from the site including a gas-powered water pump, a smaller submersible water pump and six to eight orange traffic cones. The total damage is estimated at $589,400.

The turbine site is part of the Blue Creek Wind Farm being built by Iberdrola Renewables and Blattner Energy. Construction of the wind farm is expected to continue through 2012.

Anyone with information about the arson should contact the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office at (419) 238-3866 or email bellerbrock@vanwertcountysheriff.com.