4 Tennessee Firefighters Charged with Setting Blazes

July 26, 2011

Arraignment is scheduled Tuesday in the case of four young volunteer firefighters charged with arson.

Houston County Sheriff’s Department criminal investigator Brian Hooper said the suspects were arrested Friday night after a series of fires, including one that destroyed a fire hall and two fire engines inside it.

The suspects are 19-year-old Jeremy Mackens and Daryl Buttons, Michael Brooks and Robert Taylor Richardson – all 20 years old.

There have been no injuries in at least seven intentional fires since March. 21.

Mackens and Richardson are charged with nine arson counts each. Buttons and Brooks face a single arson charge.

“These acts began March 21, 2011, and we began to have a fire nearly every night for about seven nights that week,” Hooper said.

The McKinnon fire station burned with the loss of two engines at the end of that week.

“It was burned to the ground,” Hooper said.

Other structures burned included three hay barns, two unoccupied houses and an abandoned hotel, Hooper said.

On July 18, sheriff’s Deputy Jamie Patterson saw flames at a hay barn. The deputy found a road flare stuck into a hay bale and was able to extinguish it, saving the barn. That led to information that was developed into evidence leading to the arrests.

Richardson’s attorney Debra Wall said she hopes to learn more about the charges at arraignment. It wasn’t clear on Monday whether the other suspects had attorneys.

The suspects are suspended from the Houston County Volunteer Fire Department. The fire hall that burned belonged to that department.

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