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Indictment: Volunteer firefighters had fires intentionally set so they could put them out

The firefighters are all facing multiple counts of arson and misconduct-in-office charges, officials say.

LANHAM, Md. — Five former volunteer firefighters with West Lanham Hills Fire Department have been indicted on arson charges after allegedly setting several fires across the central part of Prince George's County, State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy announced during a news conference on Friday.

Between Dec. 2019 and Jan. 2020, five volunteer firefighters are accused of conspiring with three civilians to set four fires at vacant homes during their shifts just to be called to service to extinguish the fires, officials said.

Following an extensive investigation by the Prince George's County Fire Department's Arson Task Force, authorities were able to criminally summon four of the volunteer firefighters and arrest one volunteer firefighter, who is in custody on a $50,000 bond. They're all facing multiple counts of arson and misconduct-in-office charges, officials say.

According to a Prince George's County Battalion Chief, the investigations started in Jan. 2020 after suspicion rose following the fourth fire. He said with the help from members of the community and 60 search warrants, they were able to turn the investigation to the State's Attorney's Office for prosecution.

"If you violate the public's trust, if you devastate our community in an impactful way, we will hold you accountable," Braveboy said.

Two of the civilians involved in the alleged arson were friends, officials said. It was reported that they would hang out at the firehouse but were not a part of the volunteer team.

One of the civilians applied to become a volunteer firefighter but was denied, officials said. The other civilian also applied but did not complete the process.

No one was hurt during the alleged fires, officials said.

The five volunteer firefighters have not been out in the community fighting fires for the past 14 months due to the investigations.

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