Former Avant Volunteer Firefighter Accused Of Burning Down Cousin’s Home

Friday, May 14th 2021, 9:34 pm
By: Amelia Mugavero

OSAGE COUNTY, Oklahoma -

A former volunteer firefighter in Avant is arrested, accused of starting several fires in Osage County, including one on New Year’s Eve that left one woman homeless.

Matthew Catlett is now facing 13 counts of arson and endangering someone's life. 

Renee Anderson has been out of her home since she lost everything in that fire. She said the worst part is the man charged with the crime is not only a volunteer firefighter - but also family to her.

"He's my cousin," Anderson told News on 6. "He’s been a fire bug for a long time, but he’s just now gotten caught."

All that's left of Anderson's home is a pile of steel and cinder blocks. Anderson's house was set fire on New Year's Eve. She wasn't home, but she says she lost 3 dogs and everything inside.

"My dogs as what I miss the most. They were my friends they were my buddies," Anderson said.

Catlett was arrested Thursday for setting that fire as well as several grass fires. Anderson said he is her cousin and he's been setting things on fire for years.

The affidavit said Catlett opened the door of Anderson's trailer house, poured gas inside and lit it on fire. Investigators said Catlett confessed to the crimes and was charged with eight counts of arson and five counts of endangering human life.

Anderson did not have insurance and is now living in a small shack. She said she thinks Matthew meant to kill her and would like to see harsher charges filed. 

"It's devastating when he said on a text message that I deserved what I got, because he thought I was in the house. He thought he killed me," Anderson said. "If he gets away with it now, he's just going to get worse if something’s not done."

News On 6 reached out to the Avant volunteer fire chief, but he had no comment.