- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A volunteer firefighter from Franklinton is accused of setting 20 fires in Washington Parish over the past two months, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

Johnny Erin Tarver, 23, had been a volunteer firefighter in Washington Parish Fire District No. 2 since November and had been wanted for nearly a week, according to department spokeswoman Veronica Mosgrove.

Tarver was booked early Saturday on 20 counts of arson, and is free on $30,000 bond, she said in a news release sent Tuesday.

He does not have a listed phone number and could not be reached for comment.

Some fires were set in woods, and three hay bales were set on fire, Mosgrove said.

State forestry enforcement investigators had been called in a week ago. Mosgrove said their work with parish fire investigators and sheriff’s deputies brought warrants accusing Tarver on 20 counts of simple arson.

Tarver was arrested after a woman called to report a brush fire, saying a man who refused to identify himself had tried to convince her it was a controlled burn. The man had been driving a red four-door sedan. Mosgrove said a deputy spotted such a vehicle, learned that it was registered to Tarver and that he was wanted for arson, and arrested him.

If convicted, the maximum penalty for one count of simple arson is five years in prison and a $2,500 fine, if the damage is less than $500.

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