MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - Joseph Edward Haas, 47, was led into the Martin County Jail on Thursday night.
The Lake Park man denies that he set his own home on fire on December 27.
"I didn't burn the house down intentionally," he said. When asked if he was sorry that a firefighter was hurt in that fire, he replied "Yes, I am, very".
The fire critically injured Jahwann McIntyre, 22, who had a duty to put that fire out. McIntyre is in between several major skin graft surgeries at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Three firefighters were injured in that fire at Haas' Stuart home. McIntyre suffered the most, with burns over most of his body.
"It's hard to put it into words because it was pretty traumatic," said friend and Martin County Fire Rescue Lt. John Davidson. "It's hard to get to sleep that night. Let's put it that way."
Word of Haas' arrest is getting to McIntyre's family. His mother was said to be 'elated'. The news was even on its way to McIntyre himself, though is friends know he has much bigger concerns right now. "Probably inside he's happy," said Davidson. "His mind is on getting better."
Haas originally told investigators he was working in Sanford, Florida, when the fire started. Now, it is a different story.
Investigators say Haas admitted that he was, in fact, close to his home. That home on SW Blue Water Way had recently fallen into foreclosure and out of Haas' hands.
"He had built this house from the ground up," said Det. Sgt. Mike Dougherty of the Martin County Sheriff's Office. "It was his baby. He had lost it in the economy and he said 'if he can't have it, no one else is'."
Haas' charges include Arson, Arson Resulting In Injury and also Grand Theft. He is being held on $1.5 million bond. If convicted, Haas could spend up to fifty years behind bars.
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