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Man charged in connection to Cooper County fires

Macario Ortiz was charged Tuesday afternoon in connection to several weekend fires in Cooper County.

Early Tuesday morning, the Cooper County Sheriff’s Office posted an update to their Facebook page. In it, they announced deputies had detained a 39-year-old Hispanic male from Illinois for questioning about the fires.

Ortiz is now facing nine felony charges including arson and knowingly burning or exploding. He is set to be in court Wednesday afternoon.

The Cooper County Fire Protection District and Boonville Fire Department put out seven fires over the weekend, according to Lt. Nathan Brandes with the Cooper County Fire Protection District.

Friday night, Boonville firefighters responded to a report of a dumpster fire behind the China 1 Buffet. When crews arrived, firefighters found the old buffet warming lines in flames.

Then Saturday around 12:15 p.m., firefighters responded to a grass fire near a pond just east of the buffet. The flames caught an old bath house on fire.

As firefighters were on scene, another call came in for a fire on Rankin Mill Lane that heavily damaged a barn. Crews were on scene for a little over an hour when another blaze was reported on Jackson Road.

“The original dispatch for that was a grain truck on fire,” Brandes said. “While we were en route to that, they came back they came back on the radio and told us that there was a combine on fire inside of a structure at that same location.”

Just to the east of the shed with the combine fire, a cornfield was also in flames. Larry Oerly, who rents the land, estimates a loss of about $15,000 between the crops and equipment.

Then around 7:15 p.m. Sunday, Cooper County firefighters were dispatched to a barn fireoff Debo Road. The barn is considered a total loss.

“I would say normally on average we would estimate anywhere from five to seven actual structure fires a year,” Brandes said. “And for this much to happen in this short amount of time is very uncommon for our area.”

Ortiz arrived in Boonville around September 17 to work at the China 1 Buffet, according to court documents. He only worked at the restaurant the next day, gathered his belongings and left.

Ortiz later admitted to setting the fire behind the China 1 Buffet to detectives. The damage of that fire is estimated to be about $3,000.

Officials estimate the total damage to be about $60,000, according to court documents.

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