A group of Maryland volunteer firefighters accused of setting fire to vacant structures have been charged with arson and other crimes.
The five men, who worked for West Lanham Hills Volunteer Fire Department in New Carrollton, Maryland, were indicted by a grand jury on a total of more 60 counts, including arson, conspiracy and misconduct in office, according to a statement from Prince George’s County Fire Chief Tiffany Green.
Nicholas Holzberger, 19, Cole Vazquez, 21, George Smith, 24, Jay St. John, 24, and Jeremy Hawkins, 26, were accused of involvement in the four intentionally set fires in late 2019 and early 2020, officials said.
The fires were set at times when they were on duty and could respond to them, WJLA-TV quoted State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy as saying. Property damages from all four blazes were estimated at $260,000 in total.
The suspects were removed from their roles when the investigation began, news outlets reported. Three civilians were also charged with arson and other crimes during the course of the investigation, authorities said.
Hawkins was being held Friday at the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections in Upper Marlboro on a $50,000 bond. The initial appearances for Holzberger, Smith, St. John and Vazquez were scheduled for mid-May, according to the statement.
It was not immediately clear whether any of the suspects had attorneys who could comment for them.
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