Local News

Wake County Investigators Charge Two Firefighters With Arson

Posted June 21, 2000

— For the past two years, the Wake County Sheriff's Office suspected several arsonists were responsible for a number of fires. This week, it realized the culprits were some of the people who work alongside them.

Don Martin's almost-complete, custom-built $250,000 dream house burned to the ground in June. The Wake County Fire Marshal ruled the incident as arson.

"I was numb and just in shock," Martin says.

Investigators arrested Phillip Daniels, 20, of Wendell and Christopher Greninger, 23, of Knightdale for the incident. Both used to work for the Wake-New Hope Volunteer Fire Department.

Wake County investigators have charged Daniels with setting at least seven other fires.

"We are still continuing our investigation to see if any of the other fires that we have yet to solve might be linked to these two individuals or to anybody else in the community," says Capt. T. S. Matthews of the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

Ray Echevarria, Wake County Fire Marshal, says there have been several cases throughout history where firefighters are known to set fires.

"Folks tend to go out and make their own excitement," Echevarria says. "Certain folks want to be the hero. They want to be the first one there. They want to be the one who knows exactly what happens."

Martin says it should be seen as a sickness.

"It would sure be nice if those kinds of people could be identified sooner before more of this goes on or anything worse than this happens," Martin says.

Investigators believe Daniels might be connected to dozens of other structure, vehicle and brush fires in the eastern part of Wake County. No one was seriously injured in any of the fires.

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