HANOVER, Ind. (WHAS11) — A firefighter meant to help protect the community from fires is charged with actually starting not one, but three fires.
Jefferson County deputies charged 23-year-old William Desch with three felony counts of arson and two felony counts of burglary.
Desch allegedly confessed to police that he set a vacant home on fire on October 12. According to a police report, a Hanover firefighter tipped police off to Desch's involvement with the house fire. Desch told police he helped the homeowner move her things out of the house a few days prior.
Desch told police he lit paper towels and curtains on fire the first time. He then returned to the house two more times. Desch lit pants and bathroom towels on fire the second time ands then sticks bundled up in paper the third time.
Jefferson County Sherriff John Wallace said even though it appears Desch knew the home was vacant, it's still inexcusable.
"It's extremely dangerous to do something like that. It's against the law. It's a crime," Wallace said.
"To put your fellow firemen through that type of situation is totally uncalled for and it put peoples' lives in danger."
According to the arrest report, Desch returned to the fire station after setting the home on fire and waited for the call to come in. Desch said it took up to an hour after he set the fire, and then 10-12 firefighters from two different companies responded to the scene. Some of those responders included Desch's fellow Hanover firefighters,
"It is alarming when it is one of your own, whether it be a fireman, or police officers. Because that's not what we're all about and I know our volunteer firemen and that's not what they're all about," Wallace said.
Wallace emphasized he doesn't want this situation to take away from what the Hanover Fire Department provides. He said the department is all volunteer-based and the firemen work hard to protect the community.
"In no way should this shed any bad light on them because they give their time, and ultimately sometimes their life. Without them, we'd be in real trouble," Wallace said. "It's quite a sign of love for their community to do something like that, so we really appreciate them."
Desch volunteered with the department for four years, since he was age 19. This is what causes the situation to be so alarming, according to Wallace.
But the Hanover Fire Department's chaplain and engineer Charles Justice said Desch had always worked hard at his job and served the department well during his time with them. Justice says he doesn't believe there were any other incidents with Desch prior to these. He also said there were no signs that would've caused the department to see this coming from Desch.
At his arraignment hearing Wednesday, the judge set Desch's bond at $50,000 full-cash. His next court appearance is set for Jan. 23.