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Apr 27, 2016 9:39 AM

UPDATE: Firefighter accused of arson in Stoddard blaze suspended from fire department

STODDARD, N.H. (AP) — The fire chief in Stoddard, New Hampshire, says he's implementing a plan to prevent future employees from committing arson after the recent arrest of a volunteer firefighter.

Chief Stephen McGerty said Wednesday that David Plante has been suspended from the Stoddard Fire and Rescue Department. Plante, who is charged with two counts of arson, is accused of setting two fires that burned hundreds of acres, forced the evacuation of 17 homes and caused $500,000 worth of damage to utility equipment.

Plante's attorney says he has suffered from mental health issues, and McGerty called him a "troubled firefighter."

The National Volunteer Fire Council estimates there are about 100 firefighters a year arrested on arson charges. McGerty says his department is adopting new policies to prevent the problem.

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