UPDATE 11/13/23 2:40 p.m.
Joseph Halder, a volunteer firefighter for the Whitefish Township Fire Department, has been charged with setting fire to a building on Saturday night.
Halder is accused of setting fire to the old Ruth’s Gift Shop building in downtown Paradise. According to the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office, he’s been a firefighter for Whitefish Township for the past few months.
Sheriff Mike Bitnar says he was on the scene moments after the call came in. He immediately looked over surveillance footage from a gas station across the street. A short time later, deputies arrested Halder while he was fighting the fire.
Halder is charged with third-degree arson, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
“Chippewa County has amazing first responders, EMS and firefighters. This does not represent the overall volunteer group we have in our county. Then again, if there is somebody posing in amongst those who are there to do good, you have to get those people out,” said Sheriff Bitnar.
Bitnar said Halder is also a person of interest in two other recent fires in the area.
CHIPPEWA COUNTY — Deputies say a suspect was arrested after a fire Saturday night in Chippewa County destroyed a building.
The call came in around 8:45 p.m. for a fire at the building that use to be Ruth’s Gift Shop in downtown Paradise. The gift shop has been closed for years.
Chippewa County Sheriff Mike Bitnar said a quick investigation at the scene led to a suspect and arrest, even before firefighters cleared the scene. The sheriff also said that the suspect is a person of interest in other recent fires in that area.
We will have more updates as the suspect’s name and charges are released.