A former Bartow County firefighter has been charged with stealing numerous firearms from a house in White and setting it ablaze.
Carey Lee Wolfe, 36, of Cartersville, was charged with 16 felonies, including First Degree Arson and Theft by Receiving, after the Oct. 4 incident off Old Mill Road in White. He was being held in the Bartow County Jail without bond.
State Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King said the arson charges stem from Wolfe’s alleged involvement in setting fire to the residence Oct. 4.
King said the investigation also revealed that Wolfe allegedly stole "multiple items" before setting fire to the 41-year-old, 1,589-square-foot home, and pawning some of the items at a local pawn shop, he said.
The fire destroyed the home and spread to a wooded area around the home which resulted in a wildfire, King said.
A Bartow County Sheriff’s Office report stated the county fire department responded to the fire at 111 Old Mill Road on Oct. 4 around 4:40 p.m. A county arson investigator then reported a witness “stated he observed a blue Ford Expedition leaving the scene of the fire” and the owner of the house was out of town.
A total of 17 firearms were reported stolen from the residence, ranging from pistols to a shotgun and a muzzle loader rifle, the report stated.
The victim on Oct. 7 told investigators he was told the suspect had taken the items, set fire to the house and pawned some of the guns, the report stated.
He said he had recovered one of the stolen firearms, a Marlin 30/30 lever action, after a witness had “wrestled it away” from the suspect.
Investigators later confirmed that the suspect had pawned two of the stolen firearms the same day as the fire, a report stated.
King said Bartow County investigators discovered the suspect was a county firefighter and handed the investigation to the Safety Fire Commissioner’s office.
“After that discovery, the investigation was turned over to our office to eliminate
any conflicts of interests,” King said.
Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office investigators then arrested Wolfe Oct. 11 and charged him with five counts of Theft by Receiving; three counts each of Burglary and Theft by Deception; and one count each of First Degree Arson, Aggravated Battery, Possession of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony, Violation of Oath by a Public Officer, and Arson of Woodlands.
He was terminated from the fire department Monday, news reports stated.
First Degree Arson is a felony punishable by a fine of no more than $50,000 or by a prison term between one and 20 years, or both, a news release stated.
Investigators with the Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office are assisting the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, Bartow County Fire Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives with the investigation, a news release stated.