Neighbors at ease after arson case resolvedPosted: Updated:
QUEEN CREEK - 3 On Your Side is getting results tonight after an arson case is re-opened and arrests are made.
The botched investigation left neighbors fearing for their safety.
Kathy Sweeney woke up to flames in the field behind her home on the morning of June 5.
Several 911 calls were made that morning, one from a woman who saw three men rushing to leave the area where the fire was burning.
With the fire creeping closer to their homes neighbors took it upon themselves to put out the flames.
Neighbors say it took Rural Metro too long to get to the field, but when 3 On Your Side took these complaints to the firefighters they told us they were dispatched immediately
According to Rural Metro their truck was in the area but waved off by the sheriff.
3 On Your Side asked the Pinal County Sheriff's Office if its deputies are in any position to make that call.
"All the fire agencies that I have experienced working with will always confirm on their own that a fire has been extinguished prior to clearing that scene," said Public Information Officer Tami Villar with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office said.
Rural Metro said getting to the area was tough because all entry points to the field were blocked due to recent arson activity around there.
So if there's been suspicious activity in the area why would the deputy who responded to this call close the case without any further investigation?
"It's unacceptable and that's why immediately upon my contact with you this case was reopened immediately," Villar said.
After 3 On Your Side went out to the scene and began asking questions about what happened in the field.
Jonathan Gardner and another man were arrested.
The arrests were a big relief to the neighbors who were frustrated fighting both fire and alleged criminal activity in their backyard.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office said the deputy who originally closed the case is facing disciplinary action as a result of mishandling the investigation.
Meanwhile, both suspects were arrested and are charged with burning of wild lands and endangerment.