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Fireman Charged With Arson
A fireman for the Cherokee Fire Department faces arson charges.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Cherokee court, 24-year-old Douglas Swayney admitted in a pre-employment exam with the North Carolina Highway Patrol that in April 2009, he set a woodland fire on tribal land with a lighter. It burned about an acre off Hospital Drive. The complaint indicates he set the fire thinking he would get some work.
The warrant for Swayney's arrest shows he faces a charge of arson in the second degree. Swayney, at the time was working for the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is responsible for putting out woodland fires on the reservation. The head of the organization has no comment.
According to Cherokee Fire Chief Curtis Arneach, Swayney started working for the fire department in November of last year. He says he was surprised to hear about Swayney's arrest. The chief says, according to policy, Swayney is suspended with pay from the fire department for two weeks and a decision about his status as a firefighter will be made after that period of time.
Cherokees Public Safety Director says he can only confirm that the case remains under investigation.
The Cherokee Police Department says Swayney remains free on bond. No word yet on the date of his first court appearance.
By Rex Hodge