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Sheriff: Assault, arson charges possible in Maries County fire

The Maries County sheriff said Tuesday that his department is interrogating suspects in a fire that led to injuries for six volunteer firefighters.

Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman said the investigation is going to continue thorugh the week, and he hoped to submit information to prosecutors for charges to be filed soon.

“They could be facing six assault-first felonies as well as arson,” Heitman said. “With our prosecutor, they will face the maximum penalties I’m sure.”

Heitman’s office wrote on its Facebook page Tuesday that the Friday house fire in the 13000 block of Highway 28 West near Vienna was intentionally set. When reached by phone, Heitman said the evidence led investigators to suspect arson but did not give more specifics.

The sheriff said Friday that six firefighters suffered moderate to severe burns and cuts when they were fighting the fire and there was an explosion. All were hospitalized, but they were all released by the following day.

“To see those heroes injured like that is hard for the whole community,” he said. “The community is just outraged now that they found out it was intentionally set.”

A relief fund for the firefighters’ medical bills and lost work has been set up at the Maries County Bank and the money will be turned over to the firefighters Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said Tuesday.

Heitman said he knows each of the six firefighters personally and nearly $18,000 has been raised. He said the community feels a responsibility to the volunteer firefighters.

“These are volunteers,” Heitman said, “They’re missing work and they’re not going to be paid while they’re not able to work.”

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ABC 17 News Team


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