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Vermont State Police say an Albany firefighter has been charged with setting fire to the fire department.
Police say 45-year-old Elmer James Joerg of Holland has been arrested on a charge of first-degree arson. He pleaded not guilty on Thursday.
Police say the arsonist used a passcode to access the station’s back door. But was it an inside job?
James Joerg was one of the first volunteer firefighters on scene. Sunday he told Channel 3 News how frustrated he was by the crime.
“If somebody calls for help tomorrow I don’t know what we’re going to do.” Joerg said at the time. “We’re hoping that the insurance will help us out but 90-percent loss is unbelievable.”
Prior to the blaze Joerg was soliciting equipment donations from Boston and New Jersey upset the department’s newest pumper was from 1976. This arson was just another blow.
“We’re just devastated by this because we have limited resources here now everything is gone by one person,” Joerg said.
Police now say that one person is James Joerg. The 45-year-old firefighter is charged with second degree arson and reckless endangerment. Allegations he denied in court.
He later confessed from the hospital after being admitted for an unknown illness. He told police he ripped down the smoke detectors — turned the stove on high — ignited cardboard — and tossed the burning paper into one of the fire trucks.
This is not Joerg’s first brush with the law. In 2008, police say he reported being shot during a gun sale in Morgan. He was later charged with making a false report after police discovered he made up the story and shot himself in the arm.
And in 1999, Joerg’s Holland home burned down, killing his father-in-law. That blaze was initially blamed on the 73-year-old falling asleep with a cigarette, but now state police investigators say there are going to take a fresh look at Joerg’s entire history.