A man accused of intentionally setting a number of grass fires in Baxter County was arrested Friday afternoon, October 14th, after a witness observed him setting a fire and then notified law enforcement.
The investigation began the day before, Thursday October 13th, when the Clarkridge Volunteer Fire Department and Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a fire that had been started on State Highway 201 North in the area of Baxter CR 784. The fire department extinguished this fire, but a short time later it was reported that additional fires were being set in the same area, including along Baxter CR 782, Baxter CR 99, and Baxter CR 36. A witness reported that he saw a Maroon pickup truck on Baxter CR 36 that was stopped along the roadside. Once he passed the parked truck, he saw a fire in the ditch line that was spreading. The witness also provided a physical description of the man in the parked truck.
On Friday, the 14th at approximately 2:17 PM, another witness contacted the Sheriff’s Office to report that fires were being deliberately set by a man lighting wads of paper and throwing them out of the vehicle window. This witness followed the vehicle into Missouri and also notified the Sheriff’s Office in Ozark County, Missouri. The suspect was followed by the witness to a convenience store in Ozark County, where the suspect was seen to purchase alcohol and a newspaper before leaving the store. A license plate number was obtained, which returned to TRENTON STRAIN of Clarkridge, Arkansas. Deputies converged on the area and began searching for the suspect vehicle. At approximately 3:48 PM, deputies saw the suspect vehicle heading South on State Highway 201 North and subsequently conducted a traffic stop. TRENTON STRAIN was driving the vehicle. During the investigation STRAIN was determined to be intoxicated and was arrested for DWI. Inside the vehicle were a lighter and wadded up sheets of paper.
Sheriff’s Investigators made contact with the witnesses, and they confirmed the vehicle and suspect being detained at the traffic stop was the vehicle and suspect they had reported. The suspect, TRENTON STRAIN, was subsequently arrested for setting the fires as well. The Clarkridge Volunteer Fire Department advised it had responded to 6 or 7 brush/grass fires on October 13th and an additional 7 brush/grass fires on October 14th. One unoccupied structure sustained extensive damage.
TRENTON LEE STRAIN, 43 years of age, was transported to the Baxter County Detention Center and booked on charges of:
Driving While Intoxicated – Misdemeanor
Refusal of Intoxication Test – Misdemeanor
Careless Driving – Violation
Speeding – Misdemeanor
Reckless Burning (14 counts) – Felonies
Arson – Felony
STRAIN remains in custody in lieu of $25,000 bond as set by a Circuit Judge. He will appear before the Circuit Court to answer on October 17th. STRAIN will likely face similar charges in Ozark County, Missouri.