Local News

Volunteer Firefighters Accused of Setting Fires for Fun

Posted June 19, 1998

— Firefighters can go for long stretches with nothing to do and lots of down time. Investigators say a pair of volunteer firefighters in Cumberland County drummed up some of their own action.

The two are now in trouble with the law, charged with setting small brush fires in hopes of being able to rush in and save the day. Investigators say the two 19-year-olds are volunteers at Station 24 in Gray's Creek.

Chief Joe Marsh says John Dove Pone Jr. and Vance McLaughlin were go-getters, and he believes they set the fires so they could have more action.

"I wasn't angry with them," Marsh admits, "I was disappointed in them. They're good boys. They're good fireman. They do a good job with the department. They just made a stupid mistake, did a stupid thing, and they're regretting it. They're remorseful for it."

Pone Jr. had an apprenticeship and been with the department for three years. McLaughlin had been with the department for six months. Both are charged with starting several brush fires over the last two months.

"Everybody's going to be hurt," Marsh explains. "I feel responsible. I'm sure every fireman here is going to feel responsible, but it's something that happened. All we can do is continue to serve the community."

JoAnn McCoy lives one door down from one of the fires the two allegedly set:

"Why did they want to do something so stupid like that?" asks McCoy. "Why did they want to play a crank trick like that? It was very very stupid."

Chief Marsh says six months from now, the two can re-apply for their jobs. If they do re-apply, their fellow firefighters will vote on whether they get those jobs back.

Both of the firefighters have posted bond and are out of jail.


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