Ex-Babbitt Fire Chief Blames Colicky Baby for Arson

Updated: 04/26/2014 9:39 AM KSTP.com By: Heidi Enninga

An ex-fire chief turned convicted arsonist has opened up about his urge to set fires, blaming it on his crying baby.

This month, Ryan Scharber, 30, was sentenced to five years in prison for setting nine fires in the Superior National Forest 2013 and attempting to set fire to a building on Mattila's Birch Lake  Resort in Babbitt while he was a volunteer fire chief in Babbitt, Minnesota.

Scharber spoke with ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas and explained that the stress of his crying, colicky baby was what pushed him to commit the crimes.

“It was just when I was home and around the stress that caused me to go out and start the fires,” Scharber told Vargas.

When Vargas challenged Scharber, saying the dads of the millions of other babies around the world with colic don’t go out and set fires to relieve stress, Scharber said “it was a legitimate way for (him) to get away for a couple of hours.”

According to a federal attorney, a psychiatrist at the Range Mental Health Center has diagnosed Scharber with pyromania.

After resigning as fire chief in December 2012, Scharber pleaded guilty on Nov. 22, 2013, to setting the fires in the Babbitt area that authorities say occurred around Aug. 27, 2011 through Sept. 12, 2012.

Scharber was also ordered to pay $27,140 in restitution for costs associated with fire suppression efforts.

Video courtesy of sister station WDIO.