Volunteer firefighter accused of setting 20 fires

Johnny Erin Tarver
Johnny Erin Tarver

Franklinton, LA  - A former volunteer firefighter with the Washington Parish Fire Department is accused of setting 20 fires over the course of two months.  Johnny Erin Tarver, who volunteered with Fire District #2 is facing arson charges for allegedly setting fires in wooded areas of Washington Parish.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry say the arrest of Tarver followed a tip by someone suspicious of Tarver's actions.   Agriculture officials say On March 14, deputies  were called out to a brush fire on Jim Edwards Road that was burning out of control. They talked to a witness, who reported they a man driving a red four-door sedan stopped and tried to convince the witness that the fire was part of a controlled burn.  The witness refused to identify himself.

A short time later, investigators say a deputy observed the vehicle at the intersection of Jim Edwards Road and Highway 440.  The deputy followed the car and determined that it was registered to Tarver who was wanted by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) for 20 counts of simple arson.  The vehicle was stopped and Tarver was arrested.

The next day, deputies with the Washington Parish Sheriff's Office went to Tarver's Franklinton home an arrested him on 20 counts of simple arson. Authorities say Tarver had been a volunteer fireman with the Washington Parish Fire District #2 since November 2013.

LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. said, "Thanks to an alert Washington Parish deputy, a suspected arsonist was arrested. It's especially disappointing to learn the suspect was, until shortly before being taken into custody, a volunteer firefighter.  It is our job to help bring to justice people who put lives in danger and property at risk of being destroyed by acting irresponsibly." 

If convicted of a single charge of simple arson where the damage is less than five hundred dollars, punishment can be a fine up to $2,500 or imprisonment up to five years, or both.

Washington Parish jail officials say Tarver bonded out of prison. His bond was set at $30,000.

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