Oct. 15--The former fire chief of Babbitt, Minn., has been indicted by federal prosecutors for setting fires in the Superior National Forest and attempting to set a fire at a local resort while he was the fire chief.
Ryan Scharber resigned on his own as fire chief last December about the time city officials were told a federal investigation was underway, said Mitch Brunfelt, Babbitt city attorney.
"It certainly came as a shock when officials became aware of the investigation, and it continues to be a shock today," said Brunfelt.
"It's a sad day," said Bernice Norregaard, mayor of the Iron Range community. She became mayor in January.
The charges, filed Oct. 11 and made public on Tuesday, do not mention that Scharber was the fire chief.
According to the allegations, Scharber set fires in the Superior National Forest on Oct. 7-9 and Oct. 11, 2011, and on April 29 and Sept. 10, 2012, all in Babbitt.
Scharber was also charged with attempted arson at the Mattila's Birch Lake Resort in Babbitt Dec. 3, 2011. No details are given in court documents.
According to Brunfelt, Scharber joined the Babbitt fire department in August 2005 and became fire chief in January 2008. He resigned on Dec. 26, 2012.
There had been published reports he was under investigation for an undisclosed crime.
Randy Furst -- 612-673-4224
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