BROOKVILLE -- Five members of the Brookville Fire Department were arrested and placed in the Jefferson County Jail Wednesday for charges stemming from arson fires dating back to October 2002.
Volunteer Chief Jeffrey Scott Corbin, 37, of Knoxdale, President Ryan Joseph Rishell, 24, of Brookville, Lieutenant and Treasurer Wade Joseph Northey, 20, of Brookville and members Dustin Ryan Buzard, 20, of Corsica and Chad E. Long, 20, of Brookville were all arrested by a task force including Brookville Borough Police, Pennsylvania State Police and the Troop C Fire Marshal Unit. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms also took part in the investigation.
The five are charged with varying counts of felony arson endangering property, complicity arson and burglary as well as misdemeanor criminal mischief and recklessly endangering another person.
Northey, Buzard and Rishell were also charged with felony kidnapping and misdemeanor unlawful restraint and terroristic threat.
"The kidnapping and related offenses were the result of a witness being transported against his will, to a location where he was threatened," said Trooper Jamie Levier in a prepared statement.
Though the five structures burned in connection with the charges were all vacant when the fires were set, one may have been a camp that received occasional use, Jefferson County District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett said.
Levier said the arrests were made without incident. Corbin, Buzard, Northey, Rishell and Long have been arraigned and are being held in the Jefferson County Jail on $250,000 bail.
The first fire was set on Oct. 31, 2002 on the Thrush Road in Rose Township. The second was on December 8, 2002 at 10 Waterford Pike in Brookville. A fire on Shields Road in the Clover Township was set on April 8, 2003. A fourth, on the Monrehan Road in the Clover Township was set on April 9.
"The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation," Levier said in his release. "Anyone with further information should contact the Brookville Police Department or the Pennsylvania State Police in Punxsutawney."
"The cooperation we received from the Pennsylvania State Police and the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms unit out of Pittsburgh was outstanding," Brookville Police Chief Ken Dworek said.
"They allowed us to bring this investigation to a successful conclusion."Dworek also noted that the arrests could possibly be unpopular in the community.
"I'm not proud that this happened in Brookville," Dworek said. "We'll take the comments from the public. I believe we did the right thing."
Thrush Road fire
The first fire, on Thrush Road, was allegedly set by Corbin, Rishell and Buzard. It took two attempts to set the blaze, according to the affidavit of probable cause. A road flare was used in the first attempt.
After waiting for approximately two hours for the fire to be discovered, Rishell and Corbin returned to the scene to ascertain the fire's status. Rishell and Buzard then filled a plastic container with an accelerant and left the BVFD, and traveled back to the structure. Rishell and Buzard then started another fire within the structure, which was located on Thrush Road, Rose Township. When the fire was reported at 6:02 a.m., the BVFD was dispatched. They were the first to arrive on scene.
10 Waterford Pike fire
On or about Dec. 8, 2002, at approximately 6 p.m., Wade Northey and Ryan Rishell allegedly discussed burning a structure located at 10 Waterford Pike, Brookville, according to the affidavit. This conversation occurred at a dinner party held at the residence of Dennis Knapp, which was attended by several members of the BVFD.
Later that evening, another firefighter saw Rishell fill a jug with kerosene at the BVFD. Rishell reportedly drove his vehicle, with Northey as a passenger, to the abandoned building, where the two used the kerosene to light the fire and then returned to the department.
Northey and Rishell later advised Fire Chief Jeffrey Corbin and another firefighter that they had started the fire.
Corbin later cautioned Northey and Rishell not to tell anyone about setting the fires.
Shields Road fire
Dustin Buzard and Ryan Rishell allegedly discussed burning down structures on Shields Road and Monrehan Road in Clover Township on March 28, according to the affidavit. Rishell solicited Buzard to start a fire at one of the aforementioned structures. Rishell wanted a fire so the BVFD would have a call. The conversation was reportedly overheard by another firefighter.
Once the fire was lit and reported, the BVFD was not dispatched, due to a misunderstanding about the location of the fire. On or about May 1, Chad Long admitted to Knapp that he and Ryan Rishell were responsible for setting the fire.
Monrehan Road fire
On April 9, at approximately 1:40 a.m., Long and Rishell reported to the BVFD building. While there, the two joined Northey in discussing a potential target on the Monrehan Road.
Later, Long and Rishell removed the emergency blue light from the top of Long's truck, and left the BVFD with Rishell.
A witness observed a vehicle of similar description leaving the area of Monrehan Road, driving at a high rate of speed.
When the fire was reported, the BVFD responded. The company was the first to arrive on scene.
While enroute to the fire, another BVFD firefighter was told by Long that he had set the fire, and almost didn't get out in time. Long explained the guys were yelling for him to "get out of there."