Reporter Rachelle Baillon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 11, 2012--5:45p.m.
"We woke up to the sound of what we thought was gun shots, loud booms, I assume it was tires, tires blowing," said John Steuck.
On December fourth, Steuck became the latest victim of a string of fires set between August 19th and last week. "Totally engulfed in flames at that time, no hope of any rescue of getting anything out of here," he described of the blaze on his property.
Retired firefighter Jerry Hebert gave us a tour of the other burned-out sites."Used to be a two-story light brick house with a green metal roof," he described, of one property.
And authorities have arrested a member of the local fire department, nineteen-year-old Jayson Reetz, on several counts of arson. "The town was very relieved that somebody was caught and we really thank the Marquette County Sheriff's Dept.," said Hebert.
He said before Reetz's arrest, people were worried their properties would be next."It's mostly a retirement area and people were worried if the back of their house was going to be started on fire," said Hebert.
As a former firefighter himself, Hebert said the fact that the accused is one who's supposed to protect--definitely brings it to a different level. "Firefighters are supposed to help people and save people and put out fires, but they're not supposed to create them," he said.
As for Steuck, he estimated the damage to his property to be around $300,000. He had several tractors, some hay crop and other equipment stocked in the structure. He said Reetz had been to the property before--as a kid he'd gone to school with Steuck's son. Steuck said he saw Reetz the night of the fire--he'd returned to help battle the blaze. "I recognized him here the night of the fire and said 'hello' to him not knowing that he was the one who started it," he said. "It probably would have been a different outcome had I known that."
UPDATED: Monday, December 10, 2012 --- 10:00 p.m.
A Marquette County firefighter is under arrest and accused of setting four fires since August.
Detectives say 19-year-old Jayson Reetz admitted he found setting fires "exciting." They say he burned a community center, barn, trailer, and shed, and each time returned with his department to fight the flames.
In one case, Reetz allegedly borrowed gasoline from 17-year-old Adam Friedl to help a barn fire grow. Friedl is also charged with arson in the case. He says Reetz sent him a text message asking to keep his "mouth shut."
The Neshkoro Area Fire Department posted a message on its Facebook page condemning the arson cases. It says they "insist that the actions taken by some do NOT represent this Department."
Reetz remains in jail and is due in court January 7. He faces a fine and up to 160 years in prison if convicted.
Posted Monday, December 10, 2012 --- 10:40 a.m.
Press Release from the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office:
After an investigation by Marquette County and Waushara County Sheriff’s Office’s, detectives arrested Jayson A. Reetz, age 19, of Ripon, WI and Adam J. Friedl, age 17, of Neshkoro WI, on numerous counts of arson to buildings in Marquette and Waushara County.
Authorities believe that Mr. Reetz and Mr. Friedl are responsible for numerous intentionally set fires located in the Town of Neshkoro including the Camp Budsin community center, a large grain operation building, and a residence both in Marquette and Waushara Counties.
The fires were reported on the following dates
-August 19, 2012 (2) 19th Court, Brown Deer Lane, Town of Neshkoro
-November 24, 2012 (1) State Road 22 Town of Neshkoro
-November 26, 2012 (1) Czech Lane Waushara County
-December 4, 2012 (1) County Road “E” Town of Neshkoro
Both Mr. Reetz and Mr. Friedl appeared before Circuit Court Judge Richard O. Wright.
Mr. Reetz is being held in the Marquette County Jail on a cash bond of $25,000.00.
Mr. Friedl was released from jail after posting a $500.00 cash bond. Both suspects have been ordered to appear in Marquette County Court on January 7, 2013 at 1:00p.m.
Assisting in the suppression and investigation into these fires were the Neshkoro Fire Department, Newton Fire Department, Harris Fire Department, Montello Fire Department, Wautoma Area Fire Department, Waushara County Sheriff, Wisconsin State Fire Marshall’s Office and the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office.