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Owl suspected in several arson cases evades fire department SWAT team using river escape route

NEW MARKET, Md. — An owl that local authorities believe is responsible for a series of suspected arson fires narrowly escaped captured Monday by using an isolated river route as a fire SWAT team closed in.

Capt. Ned Sweeter, head of the fire SWAT team, said it appears as though the owl, whom authorities have only identified as “Bobby,” was tipped off.

“He knew we were coming,” Sweeter said, clearly frustrated at Bobby’s last-second escape. “We had this planned to a ‘T.’



The river route is the same one used by other notorious animal criminals such as “Dimples the Bear,” who escaped from animal control officials after several picnic basket robberies in 1956, and “Paddles the Beaver,” believed to be responsible for building several dams that stopped up river water in the late 1980s.

“No one but us knew about this operation,” he continued. “Well, okay, except for a couple dudes down at the ‘Stop & Rob’ we mighta told on our way out here.”

Bobby, a barn owl, is believed to have been responsible for a series of farm-linked fires over the past several months. It’s not clear whether he has an accomplice, Sweeter said.

“Heck, we’ll get ‘im next time, you can bet yer bottom dollar on that!” Sweeter said as his team packed up and headed back to the SWAT room at the fire station. “Ain’t no danged barn owl gonna make a fool outta this fire service!”


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