Arson Suspected At Parma Cotton Gin

Arson Suspected at Parma Cotton Gin
By: Crystal Britt

PARMA, MO --The owner of the Mahan Cotton Gin in Parma says it could have been a lot worse. A fire broke out around 3:30 Wednesday morning at the office building within yards of the huge gin. Investigators are calling the fire suspicious. 
The small community of Parma thrives on big business like cotton farming. Meaning, the Mahan Cotton Gin is a vital part of life there. But, an early morning fire nearly changed the face of the town. Somehow, the office building next to the gin caught on fire. Investigators suspect arson. The owner can't imagine anyone wanting to do such a thing. "I really don't have a clue", said Allen Hampton. Sheriff Terry Stevens says right now it is suspicious.  "Until we find evidence to prove one way or another we're going to treat it as an arson."
Allen Hampton's thankful the fire didn't spread to the gin. "Really everything's in better shape than what we thought." The State Fire Marshall's Office, and investigators with Alcohol Tobbaco and Firearms are on the scene. "Since the new homeland security issues have come into effect, when there's a commercial fire, ATF is called to respond", said Hampton. 
The owners lost quite a bit, but did manage to salvage a lot of important files.  It was a real scare...especially this close to harvest. Hampton says, "We wait about 10 months to get to gin cotton, so if we missed it we probably would have been gone."
The Hampton's plan to bring in a portable office buidling, but will work out of their home for now. Other than that. They expect ginning season to proceed as normal.