GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A volunteer firefighter from the Upper Peninsula was arrested over the weekend while fighting a fire that he allegedly started.
The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office confirms 35-year-old Joseph Halder was arrested on Saturday night while the Whitefish Township Fire Department was fighting a fire at a vacant building in the Paradise business district.
Chippewa County Sheriff Mike Bitnar told 9&10 News that he reportedly reviewed surveillance footage from a gas station across the street, which ultimately led to Halder’s arrest.
Halder was arraigned Monday, charged with one count of third-degree arson. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Bitnar told our northern Michigan affiliate that Halder is also now a person of interest in two other fires in the area.
Halder had been working with the Whitefish Township Fire Department for a few months before his arrest. Bitnar says his alleged actions are not a true reflection of the area’s first responders.
“Chippewa County has amazing first responders, EMS and firefighters. This does not represent the overall volunteer group we have in our county,” Halder told 9&10 News. “Then again, if there is somebody posing in amongst those who are there to do good, you have to get those people out.”