Lake County volunteer firefighter arraigned in arson case

Proposed legislation would establish community grants to assist local governments with increasing crisis response programs and diverting people with mental health conditions from jails. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Proposed legislation would establish community grants to assist local governments with increasing crisis response programs and diverting people with mental health conditions from jails. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

YATES TOWNSHIP — A 20-year-old volunteer firefighter in Lake County is facing arson and drug charges after being arrested for allegedly setting two wildfires in Yates Township last week.

Frederick Crafard, 20, was arraigned Friday in the Lake County Trial Court on two charges of fourth degree arson and a charge for possession of illegal drugs.

The charges stem from two incidents that occurred Wednesday, April 27. According to a news release from the Lake County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to two separate wildfires — the first on 80th Street and the second a few hours later on Queens Highway near 80th Street. Police said Crafard, a Yates Township volunteer firefighter who has since been terminated, was present at both scenes.

Det. Lt. Brad Nixon, of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, told the Pioneer that upon questioning, Crafard admitted responsibility for the two fires. Crafard also had an arrest warrant out of Newaygo County for a traffic violation. He was taken into custody and lodged in the Lake County jail.

The fires were discovered quickly and did minimal damage, Nixon said.

"Both parcels of land are USA public lands," he told the Pioneer. "The first fire was discovered by a conservation officer; the second fire was discovered by a turkey hunter."

Nixon estimates both fires covered less than a half acre.