10-26-2017 Former Hartford firefighter admits to numerous arsons; Hartford and Watervliet seek gridi

Police Reports

By Annette Christie

Former Hartford firefighter admits to numerous arsons 

 A Hartford man has been arraigned on six counts of arson following a task force investigation into suspicious fires.  Kyle David Norden, 40, was arraigned on Monday, October 23 on three arson charges, 2nd degree and three arson charges, 3rd degree.

Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel E. Abbott reports that over the course of several months there were suspicious fires that the fire chiefs made him aware of. These fires all seemed suspicious in nature and it was believed to have had human intervention and deemed as arson.

A task force was set up by Sheriff Abbott on October 20, 2017 to look further into the fires. Deputies within the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office along with the local fire departments began to look more closely at all fires recently fitting a unique profile. The profile included abandoned residences and detached out buildings specific to the Hartford, Keeler, and Bangor areas.

On Friday afternoon, October 20, a subject came to speak with Sheriff Abbott personally about a possible suspect. The suspect was brought to the Sheriff’s Office and was subsequently interviewed by deputies.

Kyle David Norden confessed to lighting five fires in Van Buren and two additional in Berrien County. The locations of the Van Buren County fires are 41000 block of 66th, Bangor Township; 9000 block of Hagar Shore Rd., Watervliet Township; 46000 block of 60th St., Hartford Township; 70000 block of 62nd St., Hartford Township; 86000 block of CR681, Keeler Township; and 65000 77th Ave., Keeler Township.

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office reached out to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and requested a specially trained K9. K9 handler Deputy Dekorte and his partner Ritzey responded to assist in the investigation. K9 Ritzey is trained investigating arsons and the presence of accelerants used in fires. Ritzey had several positive indications at numerous fire scenes related to these cases. Once K9 Ritzey indicated the presence of accelerants, evidence was collected and will be sent to the Michigan State Police Crime Lab for analysis.

Abbott said, “I am proud of this organization and the way all the deputies put in the extra effort to quickly bring this investigation to a close. The Sheriff’s Office worked well with local fire departments and organizations to protect the citizens of Van Buren County before someone was hurt.” He added, “I am grateful and humbled by the public safety sector that put in an extra effort, from the deputies, fire chiefs, Kent County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dekorte and his K9 Ritzey, the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office and many others who brought this to a speedy conclusion.”

Norden was arrested in 2014 after taking a fire truck and fire gear from the Hartford Fire Department as a former firefighter.  He accepted a plea deal down to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful use of a firefighter badge or uniform.