Former Compton Firefighter Arrested on Suspicion of Arson

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Former Compton Fire Department Deputy Chief Marcel Melanson is photographed at the station in 2009. (Christina House / For the L.A. Times)

COMPTON — A former Compton deputy fire chief — who has also starred on a reality television series — has been arrested on suspicion of arson and grand theft in connection with a fire that destroyed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of radio equipment in late 2011.

Marcel Melanson, 37, was arrested at his home Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Compton had bought the radio and communications equipment in 2010, when the city was planning to end its contract with the Sheriff’s Department and reinstate the Compton Police Department.

The City Council voted in June 2010 to move forward with the $19-million venture. The city spent at least $1.7 million on preparations to set up a department, including more than $1 million on radio equipment, and hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants, but then killed the project in April 2011 when it became clear that the general fund was running a multimillion-dollar deficit.

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