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November 28, 2010

Former McAlester-area firefighter arrested in arson case

McALESTER — A former volunteer firefighter has been arrested on charges of arson in connection with an investigation by local police.

James M. Kaiser, 27, of Alderson, has been charged with multiple felony counts of arson in the third degree and illegal possession of an incendiary device.

Kaiser was an Alderson volunteer firefighter for about eight years until he resigned in the spring of 2010. “His resignation,” said Alderson Fire Chief Clem Peppers, “was not related to the current arson charges.”

When asked why Kaiser resigned, Peppers said that he had to keep that information confidential. “I don’t know when this is coming to trial,” Peppers added, “but I know I’ll be called as a witness if it does come to trial.”

According to a report submitted to the court by Special Agent David Spears of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Investigative unit, Peppers had contacted Spears on Jan. 6, 2008, regarding “a rash of fires in and around the Alderson area.”

Spears’ report states that Kaiser allegedly had been calling in the fires and then was the first fireman to respond. Spears’ report also refers to evidence of witness statements that place Kaiser at the scene of some of the fires, DNA evidence matching Kaiser’s DNA on incendiary devices and Kaiser’s confession to setting the Cry Baby Bridge fire.

“Mr. Kaiser stated that he had only set one fire in the fall of 2008 on the side of the road by ‘Cry Baby Bridge,’” Spears stated in his report regarding a Jan. 8, 2010, interview with Kaiser. “Mr. Kaiser stated that he felt guilty about setting the fire and put it out. Mr. Kaiser denied setting any other fires and stated there would not be any reason for his DNA to be on the devices that were being used to set the fires in question.”

Contact Rachel Petersen at rpetersen@mcalesternews.com.

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