He volunteered to fight fires, but now he's charged with starting them

SHEBOYGAN (WITI) -- The Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office has arrested a volunteer firefighter in connection with two arson cases in the Town of Russell.

The 22-year-old Holstein man is accused of starting two fires in the Town of Russell in August:

The first fire was reported on August 5th at St. Paul's Christian Church on County Road J. Officials say fire damage was discovered on the outside of the building.

The second fire was reported on August 6th  at 3:43 a.m. The Sheriff’s Office says they received a report of a barn fire on County Road H in the Town of Russell.

St. Anna, Elkhart Lake, Glenbuelah, Greenbush and Franklin Fire Departments, along with the Sheboygan County Fire Investigation Unit, responded to the fire, which was limited to one side of the building.

As a result of a joint investigation, the 22-year-old man was taken into custody for two arsons in Sheboygan County and is expected to be charged with one barn fire arson in Calumet County.

The Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office will request charges of two counts of arson -- including a penalty enhancer for crimes committed against certain people or property for the fire at St. Paul’s Christian Church.

No one was hurt in any of the fires. There's also relief that both the church, and two barns, survived the fire.

Investigators say a volunteer firefighter confessed to setting all three.

A member of the congregation began to replace the siding at Saint Paul Christian Church in the Town of Russell. Three weeks ago, church president Glenn Schmall reported fire damage on the corner of the building.

"Some disappointment at first to know maybe there was an intentional, it was intentional to set it but also thankful that it was only vinyl siding that burned," said Schmall.

Fire investigators suspected arson.

One week later, firefighters responded to a barn fire just down the road. Again, police suspected arson.

"Like most people, sometimes you`ll leave your door unlocked but with the situation of the arson there, we've been a little more cautious," said John Clements, a neighbor to the church.

Investigators became suspicious after interviewing 22-year-old Jacob Ausloos. The volunteer firefighter had called in the barn fire, but used the non-emergency line, not 911.

Prosecutors say the new Holstein man confessed to setting that fire, saying he did not plan to start the fire but woke up in the morning and decided to start a fire.

The criminal complaint alleges he later confessed to setting the church fire as well, saying he did it, "Because I don't like that church, because I'm not that religion."

The arrest is a relief for Schmall, who says he holds no ill will towards Ausloos.

"We feel and we`re very happy as a congregation that the individual will get some help now and maybe realize the seriousness this could have been," said Schmall.