We Didn’t Start The Fire: Firefighters Accused Of Sparking Blazes They Got Paid To Extinguish

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Italian police have accused 15 volunteer firefighters in southern Sicily of fraud for deliberately starting fires so that they could eventually be paid 10 euros (11.80 USD) an hour to extinguish them.

Suspicions first arose when the volunteer group was called to extinguish more fires than any other groups. They responded to 120 calls while other groups only responded to 40 calls.

The brigade commander was accused of missing shifts in order to start the fires. Analysis of the emergency calls revealed several of the calls were made by the same number, yet different names were given by dialers. Most of the firefighters confessed to asking their friends and family members to make the calls.

The brigade commander was the only member of the brigade to be placed under house arrest. Because the alleged fraud was committed between 2013 and 2015, Italian police deemed it unnecessary to hold the others under house arrest. The commander was considered a danger because he was suspected to have continued starting fires even after the others stopped.

Police stated he had “no fear about the consequences of his behavior” and spoke about setting a bomb in the station to “take the money available if the emergency vehicles needed to be repaired,” reports The Guardian.