By Pete Wurdock

One man is in custody following a string of suspicious fires in and around Paradise over the past six weeks. Joseph Halder, 35, was arraigned Monday in the 91st District Court in Chippewa County. He was charged with third-degree arson and is being held in Chippewa County Jail on a $200,000 bond.

Halder is a member of the Whitefish Township Fire Department.

Three structure fires burned unoccupied buildings; there have been no injuries to civilians or firefighters.

The first fire destroyed the house and garage next to the groomer barn. The second fire was at a cabin and garage south of Paradise off East West Rd.

The most recent fire was lit on Saturday, November 11 at a vacant gift shop and garage next to the Yukon Inn on M-123.

Surveillance video of the area identified Halder, who responded to the fire call Saturday, as the alleged suspect early on. The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office obtained additional evidence of arson and arrested Halder prior to fire departments clearing the scene.

Eyewitness Rick Brockway of Paradise heard the call for the Saturday fire come over his scanner.

“When I got there, the back of the building toward the woods is what was all on fire making it seem obvious that the fire started in the back of the building,” Brockway said. He watched firefighters work on the scene. “As soon as they busted into the building and started spraying water, the blaze really took off. Then they ran out of water.”

The Paradise Fire Department does not have an expedient way to refill the trucks. “They had to be back there at least 45 minutes trying to get the truck filled up,” Brockway said.

In addition to Whitefish Township Fire Department and EMS, the Hulbert and Bay Mills fire departments were summoned. Cloverland Electric, Michigan State Police, and Central Dispatch also responded.

The responding departments are credited for keeping the fire from spreading to other buildings.