Fire captain arrested for burning down his house, filing fraudulent insurance claim

His house caught on fire two days in a row.

— -- He lost his house in a fire, and now he might lose his freedom.

A Tennessee fire captain was arrested this week for allegedly torching his home and filing a bogus insurance claim.

On the night of Sept. 5, 2016, Capt. Jeffrey Neely, 48, of the Metro-Nashville Fire Department, said he was cooking bacon for his dogs at his White Bluff, Tennessee, home, according to ABC affiliate WKRN, starting a blaze. He said he tried to contain the fire but couldn't.

Eric Deal, the chief of the volunteer White Bluff Fire Department, told ABC News that Neely then called 911.

"He called saying, 'My house was on fire,'" Deal said.

To contain the flames and protect the three-bedroom, 2,470-square-foot home, built in 1983, Deal said, it took three trucks and the aid of volunteers from the Claylick Fire Department.

"The first fire there was severe to the rear of the house," Deal said. "We were on the scene and knocked it down fairly quickly."

"It was just your typical structure fire," he added.

Neely apparently complained of chest pains, Deal said, and was transported to TriStar Horizon Medical Center.

The next day around 5 a.m., a passer-by saw Neely's house on fire again, Deal said.

But this time it was too late.

"When we got to the second [fire]," Deal said, "the house had already collapsed."

Two days after Neely's home was burned almost down to ash, state arson investigators and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation opened a case looking into the cause of the fire.

A grand jury convened on Oct. 18 and returned an indictment for arson and insurance fraud, both felonies, according to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation official Michael Jones.

"It was determined during the course of the investigation that arson was at play," he said. "And that's what began the investigation."

The agency released a statement, saying it "determined that [Neely] intentionally set fire to his own residence."

Deal said that Neely watched him and the other volunteers battle the first blaze but was unaccounted for when the house caught fire again the next morning.

"That was what prompted arson investigators to look at this," he said.

On Tuesday, Neely was arrested and booked into the Dickson County Jail, according to a Dickson County Circuit Court indictment, and posted a $50,000 bond.

Neely hasn't been arraigned or retained an attorney, according to Dela Saunders, a Dickson County Circuit Court clerk.

He's due back in court on Nov. 13, the criminal indictment said.

ABC News' attempts to reach Neely were unsuccessful.

He was not on duty when he was arrested; he had been placed on paid administrative leave, Metro-Nashville Fire Department spokesman Joseph Pleasant said.

A statement released by the Nashville Fire Department said Neely will remain on leave, "pending an internal investigation."

He was previously recognized for heroism.

On Sept. 25, 2003, a fire tore through the NHC Nashville HealthCare Center and claimed eight lives. Neely was one of the first to arrive and became trapped along with several elderly patients.

Their prospects appeared bleak, but Neely, according to The Tennessean, smashed a window to let air in and then ushered the patients down a stairwell through thick black smoke to safety.

When Neely emerged from the engulfed building, he was met by his father, who is also a firefighter, according to The Tennessean.

"We lost eight people," Neely said afterward. "But we rescued [everyone else]. We got the job done."