Firefighters react to fellow firefighter charged with arson - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Firefighters react to fellow firefighter charged with arson

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Brandon Harris, age 26 (Source: Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office) Brandon Harris, age 26 (Source: Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
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BEAUREGARD PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

KPLC has learned more about a former volunteer firefighter arrested and charged with arson. The arrest follows a one month investigation.

On Tuesday, the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office arrested 26-year-old Brandon Harris. He's charged with four counts of simple arson for allegedly starting four wildfires south of DeRidder in 2012 and 2013.

But firefighters in the area had a more personal reaction to the news.

"It does make you mad because we work too hard to gain the peoples trust and save lives and property and you have somebody do this and it makes us all look bad," said Shane Frazier, Assistant Fire Chief of Ward Six.

Firefighters reacted to news that 26-year-old Brandon Harris, another firefighter, was arrested and charged with four counts of simple arson.

"It's always tragic that someone involved in emergency services does something of this nature and violates the law. The public puts an extreme amount of trust in us and that violates the trust," said Tim Gilland, Fire Chief of Ward Six.

Harris was arrested after a month long investigation by the Beauregard Parish District Attorney's Office and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

Investigators say Harris admitted to setting four wildfires south of DeRidder in 2012 and 2013.

Broadland's Substation is one of six in Beauregard Parish Fire District Two.

Mark Degenhardt, District Two Fire Chief, said he didn't want to do an interview but he did release this statement.

In it he says, "The Fire District has cooperated fully with this investigation and will continue to provide assistance to those officials in charge."

He added, "It is unfortunate that cases like this occur. We should all keep in mind there are hundreds of fire fighters in southwest Louisiana that work very hard every day to protect lives and property."

But firefighters in the local area say they all work together.

"When we get on scene, we've had comments from other fire chiefs that you can't tell the difference," said Dean Lappe, Fire Chief for Houston River Ward Four.

And for the many volunteer firefighters who also have full-time jobs, they want the public to know they work hard to keep the community safe.

"What happened in Longville, that's just one bad apple. We don't want to lose the trust of the public, that's who we're here to serve," said Frazier.

Investigators say a total of 17 acres of land was reportedly damaged by the fires along with an estimated $12,500 worth of timber.

Harris was booked into the Beauregard Parish Jail. His bond, at last word, was set at $60,000.

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