Former Wood County firefighter pleads guilty to 4 counts of felony arson

Former Wood County firefighter pleads guilty to 4 counts of felony arsonay.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:37 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:40 PM CDT
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QUITMAN, Texas (KLTV) - A Former Hainesville volunteer firefighter pleaded guilty in Wood County court today to four counts of felony arson.

Courtney Dwaine Keel now faces eight years probation and $6,000 in fines after prosecutors say he would set fires and then later return to fight them as a member of the department. Additionally, Keel is banned from department property and from communicating with members.

All of the fires were located within 1.5 to 2 miles of Keel’s residence, which raised investigators’ suspicions.

“This was a circumstantial case; we didn’t have hard evidence as far as somebody seeing him light the fires,” said Wood County District Attorney Angela Albers. “We had a lot of circumstantial evidence that he lived close, that he would be in proximity to these fires before other firefighters would, so it really just was the circumstances that led us to believe he committed these offenses.”

Keel’s attorney, Erick Platten, said he plans to file a motion to reopen the case. He says his client pleaded guilty believing he would be receiving deferred probation.

“It was believed that it was deferred probation; in fact, it was adjudicated probation. That was not our understanding the whole time,” said Platten. “We are in the process of re-opening his cases.”

Court documents obtained by KLTV show that Keel agreed to a plea agreement that would offer non-deferred probation.