Defiance man accused of setting fire in his own garage.
DEFIANCE — A local firefighter and associate deputy with the Defiance County Sheriff’s Office has been indicted on two counts of aggravated arson for allegedly starting a fire inside his garage.
Mark Paul Seibert, 29, of Defiance, is to be arraigned Wednesday in Defiance County Common Pleas Court on the two first-degree felonies.
He is charged with setting a fire June 18 inside a garage at his rural Defiance home, creating a “substantial risk of serious harm” both to emergency responders and to an individual who lived in an upstairs apartment of the house, said Defiance County Prosecutor Morris J. Murray.
“It was a fire that started with a lawn tractor,” he said.
No one was injured, although Mr. Seibert was examined at the scene. Mr. Murray declined to speculate on a motive for the fire, but said he did not believe Mr. Seibert started the fire so that he, as a firefighter, could respond to it and play the hero as has happened in some cases of firefighters who start fires.
“He was not involved as a responder,” Mr. Murray said. “It wasn’t that type of situation.”
Defiance County Sheriff Dave Westrick said Mr. Seibert has been an associate deputy with his department for five years or so. Although it is a part-time, unpaid position, Mr. Seibert was placed on leave several weeks ago, the sheriff said, “when we found out there was an investigation being done.”
Defiance City Fire Chief Dave Schmaltz said Mr. Seibert has been an auxiliary firefighter for his department for at least five years. Auxiliary firefighters get called out when there is a structure fire or other need for additional personnel and are paid only for runs they go out on.
Chief Schmaltz said Mr. Seibert voluntarily went on leave from the fire department even before his indictment last week.
“He was going through some family issues, and he came in and talked with me, and we decided to go ahead and let him take a leave of absence for a while,” he said.
Mr. Seibert also is a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician with the South Richland and Highland Township fire departments, Chief Schmaltz said.