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Former fire chief convicted of intentionally setting fires

Former Fire Chief Convicted Of Intentionally Setting Fires

When you think about firefighters, you usually think of crews putting out wildfires, not starting them.

But not in the case of Ryan Scharber. KBJR says the former fire chief pleaded guilty to setting a number of fires around the small community of Babbitt, Minnesota.

And now, after being sentenced to five years in prison, he's explaining what drove him to did it.

Scharber explains he started those fires because of stress brought on by his newborn son's crying. ABC quotes: "It was a legitimate way for me to get away for a couple hours ... "

Between 2010 and 2012 there were 39 suspicious fires in the Babbitt area. This was especially troubling since the town is surrounded by a national forest.

WDAZ explains the unprecedented number of fires around a national park drew the attention of federal investigators, who believed the person responsible might actually be a firefighter.

ABC adds: "While it ... seem[ed] unlikely, some estimates say that as many as 100 firefighters are arrested every year for arson."

The investigators' theory was confirmed when Scharber was discovered in the woods by a fishing resort with a half tank of gasoline.

KQDS says after being questioned by investigators, Scharber admitted to setting nine fires and attempting to set fire to the resort. He was charged with setting fire to federal land and attempted arson.

He was sentenced to five years in prison under the federal mandatory minimum. Scharber is set to begin serving his term June 2nd.

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