Equipment on pipeline construction site intentionally set ablaze, officials say; damage estimated at
A Saturday night fire that caused $500,000 in damage to equipment a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site is being investigated as arson, the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office reports.
The fire in the 2900 block of Grassland Drive is in the Smith Mountain community of northern Pittsylvania County, the sheriff’s office reported. On Friday, a protester was arrested at a pipeline site on Oxford Road in Climax after she locked herself to a piece of equipment.
A passerby spotted the fire at about 11 p.m. Saturday and called 911. When emergency crews and sheriff’s deputies arrived they found the earth-moving equipment — referred to as a Caterpillar PL 87 — ablaze.
It was located on the site of the Mountain Valley Pipeline construction right-of-way, according to the sheriff’s office.
The Pittsylvania County fire marshal’s office determined the fire was intentionally set. There were no injures reported and no other equipment was damaged.
Anyone with information concerning the arson is asked to call the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office. Callers may be eligible for a reward.
On Friday, a woman, identified as Emma Howell, had locked herself to a horizontal drill on the Climax site in protest of the highly controversial 300-mile natural gas pipeline, temporarily halting its construction. About eight other opponents of the pipeline joined her at the site along Oxford Road in the Climax community in support.
Once she was removed from the drill, officers arrested her and took her into custody, according to a Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office news release. Officers charged her with criminal trespassing, a class 1 misdemeanor before she was released from custody on a $2,500 unsecured bond.
Mountain Valley’s natural gas pipeline is being constructed in West Virginia and Virginia and runs through a portion of Pittsylvania County.
Charles Wilborn - Publishing Author
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