Arson suspect is former Southside volunteer firefighter - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Arson suspect is former volunteer firefighter

Assistant Chief Hugh Futrell Assistant Chief Hugh Futrell

WTOC has learned that man arrested on arson charges in Effingham County last month is a former volunteer firefighter himself with a history of arson arrests. 

Mathew Collet, 33, was a volunteer firefighter at the Southside Fire Dept. 15 years ago.  Assistant Chief Hugh Futrell said that back they noticed some suspicious activity.

"We ran our standard background checks and checked him out before he started volunteering," Futrell said. "He volunteered for about a year ... then we started noticing some suspicious fires that were starting to occur."

Futrell said the department took immediate action.

"We called in some investigators. We called in the authorities. It turned out, sure enough he was the one at the time starting them," he said. Because of this, the Southside Fire Dept. fired Collett.

In 1998, Matthew Collett was arrested and charged with 16 arson-related charges, but was never convicted of any of those charges.

Now, Collett stands accused of setting the Sandhill fire, facing charges of first degree arson and burglary.

Collett's bond is set at $28,000.

If he makes bond, he'll have to stay at Morris Village Alcohol Drug Treatment Center in Columbia, South Carolina.

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