Volunteer crews in Union County faced another string of suspicious fires in their territory Thursday morning.
Firefighters battled three forest fires, all within about a mile of one another, and all within a matter of minutes.
The first fire sparked on Dan Shumate Road and Texas Hollow Road around 2 a.m., scorching nearly 35 acres.
"The thing is somebody is either going to get hurt fighting these fires, going to the fire, or it's actually going to get to somebody's house and burn their house down," said Chief Gordon Sartain, with the Union County Fire Department.
It was a close call for one house that was less than 800 feet from the flames, until crews dug up a line to stop the fire from reaching the property.
"If forestry hadn't gotten there with a dozer to cut a line, it could have easily gotten to his house," said Sartain.
Two other fires sparked around the same time and nearby, at Dan Shumate Road and Texas Hollow, and Kettle Hollow Road and Chestnut Grove.
"It's costing us time and money. This morning I had a lot of people that had to go to work so we were shorthanded," said Sartain.
Sartain said he is beyond aggravated, and his department is not alone. A fourth fire sparked this morning on Hickory Valley Road in Paulette, destroying a barn.
"It's common to have some of this every year," said Sartain. "But, not at the level that we've had it this year. It's just been unreal."
In October, several mobile homes, abandoned houses, and barns caught on fire in a six-day period.
The Union County Sheriff's Department is investigating all of the fires.
The forest fire at Dan Shumate Road and Texas Hollow Road is expected to smolder for a few days.