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10 firefighters from 2 NC departments arrested in arson conspiracy case

Multiple fires over more than 18 months in Robeson County

Robeson County arson arrests

WRAL Gilbert Baez is live with information on arson arrests in Robeson County

Posted by WRAL TV on Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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Tonya Brown, WPDE-TV:

Ten volunteer firefighters have been arrested and charged in connection with several arsons in the Fairmont and Orrum areas of Robeson County, according to Robeson County Sheriff Ken Sealey.

Sealey said the firefighters intentionally set fires to abandoned homes and woods in the community.

He added these arrests come after a year-long investigation into suspicious fires.

A Maxton police officer and N.C. Department of Corrections officer have also been charged.

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Nancy McLeary, The Fayetteville Observer:

“We’ve had several grass fires, abandoned structures burned and woods fires in the last 18 months,” Sealey told The Fayetteville Observer. “We started an investigation on it and about six months ago, arson investigators developed information.”

“I feel sure there will be more charges and more arrests.”

“You know, I hope it doesn’t make people distrust them,” Sealey said, referring to all volunteer firefighters. “I’m not saying these people aren’t great. I know most of them and they’re good people.

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Annick Joseph, Robesonian:

Charged with felony arson burning of a church, uninhabited house or store were Kenny Caulder, 19, 1467 Pinewood Road, Fairmont; and Melquan Williams, 21, 105 N. Florence St., Maxton.

Charged with setting fire to grass, brush or woods were Ashley Marie Oxendine, 18, 690 Merritt Road, Fairmont; John Austin Huggins, 17, 690 Merritt Road, Fairmont; Jordan Scott, 19, 203 Mulberry St., Fairmont; Willie Fuentes Strickland, 42, 4381 Fayetteville Road, Lumberton; Austin Seth Hunt, 23, 4644 U.S. South 301, Rowland; Jordan Emmanuel Hunt, 18, 74 Antioch Road, Lumberton; Kendall Strickland, 18, Old Lennon Drive, Fairmont; and Shellia Huggins, 19, N.C. 41 South, Fairmont.

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Robeson County Sheriff Statement:

On July 10, 2018, 10 firefighters were arrested as a result of a 1 year investigation which involves numerous agencies including: Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, State Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and the North Carolina Forestry Service. The firefighters were involved in a conspiracy over a two year time period to set numerous with woods and abandoned structure fires.

The firefighters are volunteer firefighters at Fairmont (Rural) and Orrum Fire Department within Robeson County. There are approximately 90 arson related charges in the investigation with more charges and individuals expected.

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