Authorities are still investigating a suspicious fire at the covered bridge in Lynchburg, and Mayor Terry Burden on Monday told Highland County Commissioners that neighbors saw three young people at the site around the time of the fire who ran away when confronted.
“I got down there pretty early when I found out about it,” Burden told commissioners. “A neighbor told me that he saw three kids down there with a tarp waving it like a fan, and when he yelled at them they took off running.”
Burden said the minister at the nearby Baptist church called the fire department, but another neighbor had the fire doused with a bucket of water before firemen from the Lynchburg Area Joint Fire and Ambulance District arrived.
“We went down the next day and fenced it off so we can check on structure damage,” he said. “The fire damage was about eight feet away from the other fire damage we repaired back in 2005.”
The village is soliciting bids for repairs on the bridge, he said, in addition to installing security cameras and enhanced lighting to prevent any future incidents.
As previously reported, the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the fire, which occurred on the evening of Jan. 29.
Authorities urge those with information on the matter to contact the Lynchburg fire district at 937-364-2915 or the fire marshal at 1-800-589-2728.
The covered bridge, which spans the east fork of the Little Miami River and connects Highland and Clinton counties was designated a national historic landmark in 1976.
Also Monday, commissioners signed off on a pair of proposed business quotes, one of which will help bring a new body scanner closer to reality at the Highland County Jail.
Commissioner Gary Abernathy told The Times-Gazette that the revenue savings coming from Advanced Radio Technology’s bid for a 911 backup system will allow for the purchase and installation of a body scanner at the jail.
Commissioner Terry Britton said that “what we’re paying now for the phone land line, this investment in the micro-wave system will pay for itself in less than a year.”
“Currently, this has been a telephone line for the backup system for the whole county,” Commissioner Jeff Duncan said. “We’ve got some new technology that we think would fit the bill, and switching over from a land line to a micro-wave system just makes sense.”
Health Commissioner Jared Warner told commissioners he had a meeting scheduled for Thursday with Sheriff Donnie Barrera dealing with site approval for installation of the security device.
In other business, Matthew Bourne, the new manager of Rocky Fork State Park, appeared before commissioners seeking direction and information regarding high electrical usage at a rest area at the East Shore Marina, saying he suspects other improvements made at the park over the years could be the cause of the spike in electric bills.
“We’ve had some conversations with environmental engineering that does all of our work out there,” Duncan said. “To their recollection, there may have been some work done back in the 1990s, but they’re checking their records to confirm that.”
Bourne, a native of Great Britain, was previously a golf course superintendent at Shawnee State Park and prior to his arrival in Highland County, he managed both facilities at Shawnee State Park and Hueston Woods State Park.
In other matters, Priest Millwright Services tendered a bid for installation of additional storage space at the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.