STUART, FL (WFLX) - Jury selection begins Monday for a man accused of setting his home on fire. A Martin County firefighter was injured trying to put out the flames.
Investigators say Joseph Edward Haas set the house on fire, located on Blue Water Way in Stuart. "It's sad, you know. He had it all and he lost it all," neighbor Jed Dalton said.
Dalton, also a retired Delray Beach firefighter, says he knew Haas well. "He used to go to the Bahamas all the time, and it came to that," said Dalton.
An arrest report showed that Haas said he would let his house burn down before letting the bank or anyone else take it from him.
Dalton remembers the night of the fire, and learning that a fellow firefighter, Jahwann McIntyre, was injured battling the flames. "He was really lucky. In a flash-over [fire], no one ever survives that," Dalton said.
McIntyre was only 22-years-old at the time of the fire in December 2012. He suffered burns to his legs, hands, feet and abdomen.
Investigators said there was evidence that an accelerant was used to start the fire.
Dalton hopes McIntyre will be given closure after the trial, even at the expense of seeing an old friend put behind bars. "He definitely needs punishment. I'm sure he's sorry but you have to pay for your crimes," Dalton said.
Haas is charged with arson and four counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter.