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Former NE Minnesota fire chief indicted for Babbitt fires


Federal prosecutors indicted a former Babbitt, Minn. fire chief for allegedly setting fires in the Superior National Forest on several occasions in 2011 and 2012.

Northland's NewsCenter reports Ryan Scharber was charged last Friday with setting U.S. forest land on fire, arson and attempted arson.

According to court documents made public Tuesday, Scharber, who was serving as fire chief at the time, is accused of setting fires at the national forest on Oct. 7-9 and Oct. 11 in 2011 and on April 29 and Sept. 10 in 2012, the Star Tribune reported.

The former chief is also accused of attempting to set fire to Matilla's Birch Lake Resort, also in Babbitt, on Dec. 3 2012.

The documents provided very few details on each fire. One law enforcement official told the Star Tribune that the fires were relatively small, about five acres or less.

Scharber resigned from his post as chief last December after news surfaced that he was being investigated by several agencies, but virtually no information about the investigation was released by authorities.

In a Sept. 2011 report, Scharber is interviewed by FOX 21 on a record number of fires in Babbitt that year, including a rise in arsons.

Scharber said in the report that the department was watching for "anybody suspicious hanging out or someone showing up at the same fires over and over again."

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