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Former Volunteer Firefighter Arrested in Connection with Arsons

March 18, 2014

A former volunteer firefighter with the Washington Parish Fire District #2, Johnny Erin Tarver, is accused of setting 20 fires in Washington Parish over the course of two months. These arsons included fires set in wooded areas and three separate incidents where hay bales were burned.   In the early morning hours of March 15, 2014, the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested Tarver, 23, who resides on Bahm Road in Franklinton.  Tarver was placed in the Washington Parish Jail and charged with 20 counts of simple arson. Tarver had been a volunteer fireman with the Washington Parish Fire District #2 since November 2013.
On March 14, deputies responded to a location on Jim Edwards Road in reference to a brush fire that was not controlled. The complainant who reported the brush fire stated that a man driving a red four door sedan had stopped and tried to convince her the fire was a controlled burn.  The man refused to identify himself.
A short time later, investigators say a deputy observed the vehicle at the intersection of Jim Edwards Road and Highway 440.  The deputy followed the vehicle and determined that it was registered to Tarver who was wanted by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) for 20 counts of simple arson.  The vehicle was stopped and Tarver was arrested.
LDAF forestry enforcement investigators became involved in this case on March 11, 2014. A follow up investigation by LDAF investigators, Washington Parish Fire District #2 and the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office resulted in LDAF investigators issuing arrest warrants for Tarver charging him with 20 counts of simple arson.
LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. said, “Thanks to an alert Washington Parish deputy, a suspected arsonist was arrested. It’s especially disappointing to learn the suspect was, until shortly before being taken into custody, a volunteer firefighter.  It is our job to help bring to justice people who put lives in danger and property at risk of being destroyed by acting irresponsibly.”
If convicted of a single charge of simple arson where the damage is less than five hundred dollars, punishment can be a fine up to $2,500 or imprisonment up to five years, or both.
Washington Parish jail officials say Tarver bonded out of prison. His bond was set at $30,000.