United States Attorney Matthew D. Orwig announced today a 33-year-old Kennard firefighter has been convicted of setting three arson fires in the Davy Crockett National Forest. Ryan James Eff was found guilty today following a bench trial before United States District Judge Ron Clark.
U.S. Attorney Orwig was pleased with the verdict and praised the firefighters who extinguished the fires, ""Forest Service firefighters are to be commended for risking their lives to battle fires every day. However, for firefighters to fight a fire set by one of their own is reprehensible."
According to information presented by prosecutors, Eff was employed as a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and assigned to perform firefighter duties in the federally owned Davy Crockett National Forest. Eff was indicted in May 2006, and charged with setting three arson fires. The indictment also noted that Eff was responsible for intentionally setting 23 arson fires in locations in or near the Davy Crockett National Forest from about May 2005 to April 2006. During each of these fires, USFS personnel responded and worked to suppress and extinguish the fires using aircraft and heavy equipment in extremely dangerous conditions. It is believed that Eff destroyed at least 345 acres of federal lands and 133 acres of privately owned property. There was no loss of structures or report of injuries as a result of these fires.
Eff resigned his positions with the USFS and as a volunteer firefighter for the Kennard Volunteer Fire Department.
Eff faces up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each conviction. A sentencing date of February 28, 2007 was set by Judge Clark.
The case is being investigated by the USFS and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Malcolm Bales and Lisa Flournoy.