2017-05-03 / Front Page

Paw Paw firefighter charged with setting recent mountain fires

by Kate Shunney

Several recent mountain fires in Allegany County, Md. have been tied to a Paw Paw volunteer firefighter who now faces felony charges in Maryland.

Brian Chad Twigg, 19, of Amelia Street, Paw Paw was arrested last Monday, April 24 and charged with three counts each of malicious burning in the first-degree, a felony, malicious destruction of property and maliciously setting fires.

Twigg is a volunteer with Paw Paw Fire Company, confirmed company officers.

The Maryland Natural Resources Police charged Twigg with the crimes. Cpl. Brian Miller is the investigating officer in the case.

According to the arrest warrant in the case, Twigg was identified as the main suspect in a recent series of fires that damaged almost 58 acres in Green Ridge State Forest in Allegany County.

The fires, which took place on March 23, April 3 and April 10, were investigated by the Forestry Service initially. Police records indicate a Forest Service employee was in the area of Malcolm Road at Oldtown Orleans Road on March 23 when he heard a loud truck quickly leave the area where he was working. Shortly after, the Forestry employee observed smoke coming from the area and found a fire burning the area. Nearly five acres were burned before local fire agencies put the flames out, the warrant said.

A second fire on April 3 in the area of Stafford Road and Kirk Road burned 13.75 acres in two different locations next to each other before firefighters extinguished the blaze. Forestry Service employees investigated the two areas and found burned flares at the two points of origin for the fires.

Further investigation by Cpl. Miller pointed suspicion at Twigg, who was identified by other area firefighters as the suspected cause of the fires.

According to Miller’s warrant documents, Oldtown volunteer firefighters noted that Twigg appeared to have extensive knowledge of the fires. One firefighter observed that Twigg had rerouted fire units directly to Kirk Road for the fire even though units had been dispatched toward Greenridge Road.

While Cpl. Miller was investigating the two initial fires, a third fire was reported in Green Ridge State Forest on April 10. Forestry personnel located another flare at the point of origin of that fire, which burned close to 40 acres of the forest.

According to Miller, several more interviews with area firefighters and residents linked Twigg’s pickup truck to the locations of the mountain fires.

Miller’s warrant document alleges that Twigg admitted, during interviews on April 14, that he had set the mountain fires with flares from a roadside emergency kit. He allegedly stated he had done it because he was bored and it gave him something to do.

The nine charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 39 years and a fine of up to $28,500, DNR officials said.

Investigators are continuing to look into recent mountain fires in the area to see if Twigg is linked to those as well.

Twigg was released from jail on a $5,000 bond the same day he was arrested, according to Maryland court documents. A May 25 hearing in Cumberland has been set in the case.

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