More Time Behind Bars for Former Volunteer Firefighter

JIM THORPE — A former volunteer firefighter from Carbon County will spend even more time in prison for setting fires.

Former volunteer firefighter Todd Deem of the Lehighton area was sentenced in Carbon County court for setting fires.

You can still find the calling cards of his crimes: a burned barn, the scorch marks on a one-room schoolhouse, and the recently refurbished barn which was destroyed by fire three years ago.

That barn is owned by Bill Johnson.

“In addition to three riding mowers, I lost with a tractor on it, thousands of dollars’ worth of hand tools and equipment.”

Although Todd Deem was sentenced to two and a half to nine years in Carbon County court, he’ll actually spend 11 years in jail. That’s because he pleaded guilty and was sentenced on arson charges in Schuylkill County.

Assistant D. A. Jean Engler said arson is a serious crime.

“Any kind of fire is a danger to firefighters and we take that as a serious crime.”

Todd Deem said he does not like his sentence.

“I am not too happy with it.”

Assistant D.A. Engler said Deem was a volunteer firefighter, would set the fires and then sometime show up to battle the flames.

“What they do appears to be an illness that they want to set fires to them just to respond themselves.”

Deem told investigators that he set the fires to relieve stress in his life.

Arson victim Bill Johnson doesn’t accept that.

“I hope he gets some stress with the time he’ll spend in jail. I think it’s a ridiculous excuse,” Johnson said.

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