- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

FREEPORT, Ill. (AP) - A 20-year-old northern Illinois volunteer firefighter accused of starting five fires allegedly tossed lit cigarettes to spark at least two of the blazes, according to court documents.

Kenneth Grabow of Orangeville is scheduled to appear in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing on arson and criminal damage to property charges. He remained in the Stephenson County Jail on $250,000 bond Wednesday morning.

Stephenson County Public Defender Byron Sloan hasn’t been able to review the evidence in the case, but he told The (Freeport) Journal-Standard (https://bit.ly/1TwnJmt ) that he intends to vigorously defend Grabow in hopes that the volunteer firefighter will receive a fair trial.

Grabow is accused of setting fires at three barns, a shed and an abandoned home in the Orangeville area between April 14 and 19.

He allegedly tossed lit cigarettes onto a paper refuse in the abandoned house on April 14 and onto a hay or straw bale in one of the barns on April 16, court records show.

The criminal complaint estimates that each fire caused more than $10,000 in damage.

Meanwhile, the Orangeville Fire Protection District on Tuesday issued a statement, denouncing arson by firefighters.

“Any intentional action of one of our firefighters does not represent this department or the fire service as a whole,” Assistant Chief Pat Widolff said in the news release. “Firefighters are held to a higher standard of conduct and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for this act.”

In August, Grabow joined the volunteer fire department, which has fewer than 30 firefighters.

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Information from: The Journal-Standard, https://www.journalstandard.com/jshome.taf

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