INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A man suspected of starting several brush fires by lighting a newspaper during dry conditions told deputies he knew it was wrong and didn’t know why he started them, authorities said.
“We worked the fires for about four and a half hours overnight,” said Indian River County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Cory Richter.
Ty Gardner Harp, whose address, age and booking photo were not available, was charged with two counts of intentional or reckless burning of land. He was released Friday from the Indian River County Jail on $4,000 bond.
Deputies responded to a brush fire about 10 p.m. Thursday in the 400 block of 102nd Avenue. Deputies arrived and spoke with Harp, who said he lit a newspaper in flames and placed it near the trees to set the woods on fire, an arrest report states.
The National Weather Service in Melbourne issued red flag warnings earlier this week for the area because of the elevated winds and dry conditions, which could easily spark an uncontrollable wildfire.
The fires left extensive brush damage to the wooded area; the sizes of each blaze were not immediately available. Harp admitted to using the same method to start fires in the 10000 block of 4th Street and the 1900 block of 102nd Avenue, deputies said.
Around the same time, two other fires were reported in the 400 block of 74th Avenue and the 400 block of 90th Avenue Southwest. Harp did not admit to starting these fires, deputies said.
About nine fire rescue units and crews from the Florida Division of Forestry helped to extinguish the fires, Richter said. No structures were damaged, he said.
Deputies found a lighter in Harp’s front right pocket and papers on the passenger’s side of his truck.
Harp was arrested and taken to the county jail for booking. He has a court arraignment at 8:30 a.m. April 4, court records show.