The Barton County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a suspected serial arsonist.
According to the agency, late Sunday afternoon 911 began receiving phone calls about hay bales on fire. Three fire calls were made to 911 and two more were discovered by citizens and extinguished.
All of the fires occurred within 45 minutes of each other. Citizens had reported seeing a silver Chevrolet four-door at the locations. Sheriff’s office deputies immediately began searching for the vehicle. In at least one instance a suspect was observed setting the fire. All of the locations were East of US 281 Highway between Ellinwood and Great Bend.
An Ellinwood city police officer observed a vehicle matching the suspect vehicle’s description on a rural road traveling towards the City of Ellinwood at a high rate of speed. Sheriff’s deputies were able to intercept the vehicle and stopped it in Ellinwood. Accelerants and a fireplace lighter were observed in the vehicle.
18-year-old Gunner Mayhugh of Great Bend was arrested at the scene. Mayhugh was booked on five counts of arson and is being held in lieu of a $100,000 bond on each count. Sheriff’s detectives are investigating Mayhugh’s motive and suspect he may have been attempting to divert law enforcement’s attention to prevent the arrest of another person.
The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s office was contacted, and a dog trained to detect accelerants was brought to the various locations.