Firefighter Charged with Arson Spree

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By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES, Iowa — A Kelley volunteer firefighter has admitted to starting four fires in Story and Boone counties over the past few months, a state fire official said Friday morning.

Brett Graham, 19, was arrested Thursday night after a witness saw him leave the scene of a rural Kelley barn fire.

He’s been charged with 3 counts of second-degree arson in connection with fires at the ISU Golf Performance Center, the Uthe Party Barn and another rural barn.

State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds said he also confessed to a Boone County fire that killed 12 horses on Jan. 28. Charges in that case are expected later today.

They are four of the 20-30 fires over the past year that Boone and Story counties and the State Fire Marshal’s Office have been investigating.

“I think there’s probably more to the story but he’s cooperated in these four cases,” Reynolds said.

(Firefighting) is what Graham wanted to do for a career, he said. “If he had a do-over, I think he would take it.”

“He’s got a lot of baggage in his life he’s trying to sort through,” Reynolds said.

Graham is the son of Kelley’s assistant fire chief, Reynolds said. However, Reynolds said, “The actions of one firefighter shouldn’t reflect negatively on their community.”

Reynolds said detectives have suspected Graham for some time. He said a collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies on the state level, right down to the detective who left Valentine’s Day dinner with his wife to question Graham, helped solve this case.

He said the Kelley Fire Dept. also assisted with the investigation.

Graham is being held in the Story County Jail on $30,000 bond.
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