N.C. Jr. Firefighter Charged with Arson

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. --

Iredell County investigators said they became suspicious of a junior firefighter in part because he was quick to respond to a number of fires.

Now they've charged 17-year-old Mason Lee Missler for allegedly setting 14 fires in woods or fields over the last four months.

Detectives said the teen gave a written statement admitting his involvement in all the fires.

The break in the cases came Friday when two small fires were set with a mile of the Lake Norman Volunteer Fire Department.

Neighbors knew they had to be connected to the other fires.

Investigators did too, and they checked the fire department's log books and noticed Missler's name came up a lot.

Iredell County sheriff's deputies said Missler often responded to the calls, and even put out some of the fires he's accused of starting.

In a statement released Tuesday, Fire Chief Larry Delph wrote, "The members of our organization strive to help the community whenever we can serve. We are aware of the damages to our image these charges have caused."

Neighbors, though, said they don't blame the department.

"I wouldn't hold the department responsible for this. I just think it's the acts of one misguided teenager," said Janel Calliham, who lives down the street from where Friday's fires were set.

Missler is charged with 14 counts of setting fires to woods and fields.

Investigators don't think he's responsible for any other fires or any structure fires.

Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the junior firefighter standards, and it in it states junior firefighters aren't allowed to respond to structure fires or car fires.

It didn't say whether they'd be allowed to participate in putting out fires woods or fields.

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