A Lake County Volunteer Firefighter is suspected of starting wildfires that have since spread.

The fires were discovered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) near Idlewild on Wednesday afternoon. Although no structures were damaged, the suspect apprehended, Frederick Crafard, was present at both incidents when crews arrived. He was arrested and charged on Friday afternoon.

Crafard is charged with two counts of fourth-degree arson and one count of unlawful drug possession. Neither wildfire was particularly large; one was about the size of a vehicle, and the other was less than an acre in size, but they were immediately discovered. They could have spread if the DNR hadn’t been present to contain them.

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“Things like that, the impact could be significant,” said Chad Hurrle, chief deputy with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. “Leaves are getting dry, all the other stuff is dry, wind blowing.”He was discovered near Queens Highway and 80th Street, according to police. Another wildfire broke out just a few hours later and a few miles away at Spruce and 80th.”This man was also the first on the scene at the fire,” Hurrle explained.

Crafard stated that he was a volunteer firefighter with Yates Township and that he was there to assist. It piqued the police’s interest right away.”That person ended up confessing to lighting both of those fires while we were interviewing,” Hurrle added.

While authorities do not believe these were accidents and that they were planned, they do advise caution when cleaning up your yard this spring. Things are dry this time of year, it’s windy, and things can quickly get out of hand before they green-up.

For more information like this do visit lakecountyfloridanews.com


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