Just one day after McConnellsville firefighters battled a fire that destroyed a seasonal home in the town of Vienna, State Police announced that McConnellsville Fire Chief Howard Roache was charged with starting the blaze.
The Utica Observer-Dispatch reports that police were able to identify Roache in video from a trail camera the homeowner had mounted nearby. Roache was arraigned this past weekend on a felony arson charge. Another McConnellsville firefighter, James Goold, was also charged with arson related to an February fire at a gravel pit maintenance shed in the town of Annsville.
On Monday, Oneida County Fire Coordinator Kevin Revere said the allegations were disturbing.
"As Fire Coordinator, my worst fear is that a firefighter getting hurt in the line of duty. My second worst fear is this - that a member of the fire service went a committed a crime, the crime of arson," said Revere.
Police are now looking at three other suspicious fires to see if either Roache or Goold had any involvement. Revere says the allegations may leave a black eye on the fire department - but he hopes people realize how rare a case like this is.
"The great majority, 99.99% of the fire service - the volunteers and paid - are very dedicated individuals, they love the fire service, they love helping people, they love their communities and they don't do stupid things like this," said Revere.