LINCOLN COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma man claims uncontrollable urges drove him to ignite a series of destructive wildfires in Lincoln County in the span of nearly a year.
“It doesn’t take long for a fire to spread, especially in low humidity and high winds,” said Chief Bobby Buchanan, with the Chandler Fire Department.
Chad Hutson is now locked up inside the Lincoln County jail for allegedly starting six wildfires across the county. The fires popped up in December 2021 through October 2022. Two of them happened on the same day.
According to court documents, the fires were sparked by either a light or burning a piece of paper thrown out the window.
“Most of these fires were started off the side of the road, which would made us think that they were all related,” said Chief Bobby Buchanan with the Chandler Fire Dept.
Investigators say two fires on March 13th burned through more than 400 acres, forced several people from their homes, destroyed empty builds, and severely damaged a historic church about to be renovated.
“It’s just heart breaking,” said Matthew Bateman, the new owner of the church. “An ember caught the top of our church and you can see the results.”
After starting one of the fires, court documents show Hutson drove to the Sparks Fire Department to report the fire. Some of the 200 firefighters, called in to help, say they saw Hutson’s blue truck circling the area.
“I think there was a couple of cases where he actually brought water to the fire fighters just in the spot of feeling guilt,” said Chief Buchanan.
Last December, court documents show Hutson confessed he had “uncontrollable urges to set fires but would immediately feel remorse” that Hutson believes “might be from a possible brain injury he thought he sustained as a child.”
The 48-year-old also told investigators he had set over two dozen other fires over the past five years but couldn’t remember where.
The infernos were taxing on firefighters.
“You have a lot of vehicles and apparatus and time spent with these fire firefighters and a lot of them are volunteer firefighters. You know, it takes a lot of time away from their families and you can’t really put a money value to that,” said Buchanan.
Hutson also has a past arson charge out of Logan county.