An Ohio firefighter is facing federal arson charges for setting a series of wildland fires earlier this year. James Bartels, 50, is accused of setting at least 24 fires in the Wayne National Forest.
Bartels, a member of the Greenfield Township Volunteer Fire Department, also served as a dispatcher for Gallia County. He resigned last month.
According to a press release issued by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio (quote):
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officers observed a truck registered to Bartels near Wayne National Forest on Oct. 29, 2022. Bartels was observed on Dry Ridge Road.
- Within an hour, a fire was reported in the forest near Dry Ridge Road and Cauley Creek Road.
- In the days after Bartels’s Nov. 8 resignation from working as a 911 dispatcher for Gallia County, at least 17 fires were lit.
- Bartels was seen at two separate locations in the vicinity of multiple fire starts within minutes of their ignition.
- Bartels admitted to starting the fires with a lighter to “give the boys something to do” and to distract himself from depression.
- He identified 24 arson fires for which he was responsible.
- His truck’s infotainment system data also placed him at the locations of the fires.
Here is a link to the Press Release.