Arson cause of September fire at historic Balls Creek Campground, investigators say

Scene of the damage at Balls Creek Campground Monday, Sept. 30

A massive fire that ripped through dozens of cabins last September at a historic campground in Catawba County has been determined to be intentionally set, according to investigators with ATF. 

The large fire happened on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. The fire destroyed at least 40 tents (cabins) and damaged several others at the Balls Creek Campground, Catawba County Emergency management said. 

"Because of the historic and religious significance of Balls Creek Campground, a joint task force of local, state and federal authorities including Catawba County Sheriff’s Office, Catawba County Fire Marshal’s Office, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and United States Department of Justice – ATF, have been and will continue investigating the fire," authorities said in a statement on Wednesday. 

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Of the 295 cabins at the campground, the Catawba County Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed that 40 tents (cabins) were destroyed and nine others sustained some level of damage. The total number of structures on the property is 303, including common area buildings and bathrooms, they said. 

The task force continues to request assistance from the public in the form of information, leads and pictures or video from the area on the evening of September 29, 2019.

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Anyone with information related to this ongoing criminal investigation should call the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office at 828-464-5241.