Society

18-Year-Old Florida Boy Joseph Brannen Starts Fire to Put It Out

| by Emily Smith
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Joseph Brannen, 18, was charged with second-degree arson after he attempted to burn down a Hernando County library and told authorities that he was a firefighter.

Firefighters were first alerted to the fire when a call came in during the early hours of the morning. When they arrived, they found wicker chairs piled against the back door on fire.

Investigators found Brannen in the area wearing firefighting gear – when asked if he was a volunteer firefighter, he said no and that he was training to become one, but that he had heard the fire call on his scanner and shortly arrived to the scene.

Brannen was questioned on Friday and revealed how he had gotten into the screened reading room at the library and lit it on fire.

Brannen is a firefighter fanatic, according to his Facebook page, where he has posted pictures of himself in firefighter gear and claimed to be an employee of Hillsborough Fire and Rescue. He later explained to authorities that it was his intent to work there, though he did not yet.

"’I'm going to go set something on fire, and go help you put out what I started,’” Melissa Mazelin, a neighbor, mocking Brannen said. “He's stupid."

The fire will keep the library closed for several months and will cost the county over $500,000 in repairs. More than 18,000 books need to be repaired.

Brannen is being held at the Hernando County Jail with a bond set at $3,000.

Sources: Tampa Bay, Sun Sentintel