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Ex-Parsippany Fire Chief Campbell Charged In Setting Of Two NJ House Fires

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Jason Campbell (Photo/Facebook.com)

Jason Campbell (Photo/Facebook.com)

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PARSIPPANY, N.J. (CBS 2) — A trusted volunteer firefighter and one-time assistant chief was arrested and charged with setting at least two New Jersey fires that he ended up responding to.

Prosecutors said Morris County Sheriff’s Officer Jason Campbell set fire to two homes in Parsippany — one in June of 2010 and the other in 2008.

On Wednesday, prosecutors told reporters they could not yet identify a motive and lamented the hazards that could have resulted from Campbell’s alleged actions.

“What’s particularly disturbing is that obviously there was a significant waste of taxpayer resources having to respond to these fires. The danger that was posed to the law enforcement professionals that respond to the fires as well,” Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said.

Neighbors told CBS 2′s Brian Andrews that they remembered last year’s fire quite well.

“It was a warm day. A lot of us were outside sitting… and all of a sudden we saw smoke,” neighbor Eugene Cubber said.

Campbell, who mentored a group of young people in county’s Explorer Program, reportedly enlisted one of its members to set fire to the garage of the home struck in 2008.

Another man in the neighborhood said he didn’t know Campbell well, but was “shocked” at the allegations because “he seemed like he was a nice guy.”

CBS 2 tried to speak with Campbell’s wife at the couple’s home Wednesday, but was rebuffed.

Parsippany District 5 Fire Chief Dave Cavaliere said he was worried people in the community would think they had a firebug running around. He insisted, however, that was not the case. Cavaliere suggested Campbell’s case may have been one of a Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde.

“My own opinion is I think he had some demons that he was dealing with and this is the way it came out,” he said, I’m devastated, I knew Jason personally. He’s a very good person otherwise, I really don’t have anything else to say.

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