PINCKARD - Charges are pending against four volunteer firefighters who are accused of starting fires in their own jurisdiction. All have been suspended of their duties with the Pinckard Volunteer Fire Department, with their fate awaiting the final outcome of the case, according to Chief Dean Oldham of the Pinckard Police Department.
"Just a few bad apples in the barrel, that's the way it goes," Oldham said.
Steven Deese, 22, of Dothan, and Tommy Covington, 35, of Midland City, will both be charged with second-degree arson, a felony offense.
They are being accused of using a rag and canister of gasoline to set fire to a barn on County Road 563 in Pinckard. The blaze was discovered by the property owner after the barn was fully engulfed, according to lead investigator, Hal Cox, with the Dale County Sheriff's Office.
Both men later responded to the alert put out by the volunteer fire department.
"It (the barn) was burnt to the ground," Cox said.
No one was injured in the fire, but nothing was salvageable in the barn that was used mostly for storage.
The two had been trimming weeds around fire hydrants earlier that day and were seen driving around the area of the fire.
Since there are no fire hydrants in that area, their being there prior to the fire created suspicion, Cox said.
And during the interviews with the suspects, a connection formed between the incident on July 23 and another fire on July 4.
Deese is also believed to have been involved in the earlier fire that destroyed about 150 bales of hay at the intersection of roads 134 and 63.
Deese, who had been with the department the longest, will also be charged with first-degree criminal mischief, a felony. Joseph Daniel Chicarello, 29, of Midland City, and David Dozier, 18, will also be charged with first-degree criminal mischief for their involvement in the fire on July 4.
Late that night, the men reportedly drove up to the hay bales and started the fire with a cigarette lighter, Cox said.
A Pinckard police officer discovered the fire and reported it, and some of the suspects responded to the alert put out, Oldham said.
The fire could not be extinguished, so it was contained until it finished consuming the bales in their entirety. It lasted well into the next day.
The warrants against the four men are expected to be executed Monday, Cox said.