Investigators Charge Four Moore County Firefighters With Arson
Posted August 1, 2000
MOORE COUNTY — Moore County deputies say they have caught the criminals who have been starting dozens of fires for the past two years. The suspects are firefighters who worked side-by-side with the deputies on several cases.
For three years, Michelle Campbell and her family have lived in an isolated section of Moore County. Although her home is tucked far away in the county, she never worried about her safety until three weeks ago. A half-mile away from Campbell's home, an abandoned house was set on fire.
"It's been pretty quiet. Nobody here bothers anybody," Campbell says.
Investigators say 18-year-old volunteer firefighter Michael Cole and three other firefighters set the blazes.
Moore County deputies say Cole admitted setting five other fires throughout the county during the last two years.
"Firefighting was something that he just enjoyed doing," says Greg Beard of the Moore County Sheriff Department. "When there were no fires, he would go out and set a fire."
Most of the fires were set in wooded areas and open fields. Although no one was injured, Beard says that does not mean that there is not any hurt -- the hurt and disappointment of knowing the men who pledged to serve and protect are the same men who put innocent lives in danger.
"They're all in a tight knit group and when one person strays away and causes something like this, it reflects back on everybody," Beard says.
Two of the accused firefighters are juveniles. All four are waiting to go to trial in September.