For months, fire investigators had a mystery on their hands until Thursday when the accused arsonist was caught red-handed.
Over the course of a year, sheriff's deputies in Boone and Story County noticed they were investigating more fires. Between 20 and 30 abandoned buildings and barns burned with no trace of who set fire to them.
When crews arrived at the scene of a barn fire on Thursday, 19-year-old Brett Graham was still there, and he admitted to starting that fire and several others.
Graham is a volunteer firefighter from Kelley, Iowa.
“We have 16,000 firefighters across the state that are dedicated to public safety, unfortunately the poor decisions of one shouldn't reflect on the entire firefighting profession,” Fire Marshall Ray Reynolds said.
Graham is charged with four counts of second degree arson.
Reynolds says neighbors and witnesses played a big part in solving the case and as pieces of the puzzle started fitting together they were able to bring the string of arson to a close.
“Any one of these fires in and of themselves may not have drawn our attention, but when you put them all together it kind of paints a pretty big picture of whats going on,” Reynolds explained.
Authorities do believe that Graham acted alone and will continue to investigation.