William Andrew Desch (File photo)
William Andrew Desch (File photo)
A man who spent four years fighting fires with the Hanover Fire Department was sentenced Monday to five years in prison without parole for three separate acts of arson and burglary.

William Andrew Desch, 24, was arrested and charged with three felony counts of arson and two counts of burglary in December 2018, after law enforcement linked him to intentional fires at a vacant house on South Indiana 62.

Desch pleaded guilty and can appeal or request modification for his sentence. Based on the nature of the crime, Desch can potentially modify his sentence by undergoing a mental evaluation, said Judge Richard Striegel, a substitute judge from Floyd County.

Jefferson County Central Dispatch received a call Oct. 12, 2018, around 10:15 p.m. of a house fire in the 2200 block of South Indiana 62 in Hanover.

Hanover and Kent Fire departments responded to the unoccupied home to find a fully involved structure. They called other departments for assistance.

The Hanover Fire Department led the investigation into the cause and “ultimately determined that the fire was intentionally started,” said a news release from the sheriff’s office at the time of Desch’s arrest. The news release said the Hanover Fire Department cooperated throughout the sheriff’s office’s investigation.

Desch “admitted to intentionally setting the house on fire...,” said the news release. “...Desch went on to say he went back to the residence two more times after the initial fire and started two other fires. Those fires did not spread throughout the residence and fire personnel were not notified to respond.”

The Hanover fire company also issued this news release at the time of the arrest:

“The Hanover Township Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. (HFD) was founded on principles of morality, truth and honor. HFD prides itself on a long history of being a steadfast hand for our community in times of need. HFD requires that its members hold the same values as the department.

“When a firefighter commits an act of arson, everything that the firefighter was sworn to protect is endangered. It was recently brought to the attention of HFD that one of its members, William Andrew Desch, was allegedly setting fires. This firefighter has destroyed the very mission in which he was tasked. It was the decision of HFD to place Desch on immediate suspension. The suspension will continue without change until further notice.

“Actions like those alleged of Desch will not be tolerated by HFD. HFD is fully cooperating with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office, and will continue to do so. HFD is currently reviewing its policies and guidelines, and will make the necessary changes to eliminate the possibility of future incidents. The HFD is committed to providing quality and professional public service. HFD would like to reassure the community that HFD is diligent in its promise.

“Hanover Fire Department finds the allegations against Desch to be very reprehensible,” said Cory Thomas, public information officer. “These actions do not represent Hanover Fire Department. We are committed to our mission of serving the community with respect, honor and dignity.”