MELBOURNE, FL – According to an online news report posted on FloridaToday.com, a firefighter from Brevard County, Florida, has been arrested after arson investigators asserted that the firefighter put his house on fire to defraud his homeowner's insurance company of tens of thousands of dollars. The was claimed in an affidavit from the Florida Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosives Investigations.
The 36-year-old man allegedly tried to light his home on fire during the September 3, 2019, Hurricane Dorian event. The man was arrested and then charged with burning to defraud an insurer and arson of a dwelling. Criminal investigators stated that the firefighter tried to set the fire.
Don Walker, a Brevard County spokesman, said that the 36-year-old firefighter was suspended but will receive pay during his administrative leave after his arrest on Friday. The suspect is a lieutenant, and he has been a Brevard County Fire Rescue firefighter for over 15 years.
According to the news report, firefighters responded to the suspect's home located on Pondapple Drive in Titusville, Florida, following reports of a home on fire call that was phoned in at approximately 11 p.m. According to the suspect's neighbors, the neighbors and the suspect phone 911 once the house caught on fire in the suspect's garage. The fire then spread up to the second floor of the suspect's house.
The suspect's arrest affidavit stated that when the fire investigators arrived at the suspect's home, the suspect's neighbors used garden hoses to assist in extinguishing the house fire as the suspect was on his cellphone talking with his wife. According to the court record, the suspect allegedly provided the fire investigators with several different versions of what transpired. At first, the suspect stated that he was inside his home and upstairs at the time the fire began, and he was not aware the house was on fire. The suspect's story changed, and he stated that he was at the scene of the fire's origin, and as the fire broke out.
Fire investigators stated that there were numerous cans of gasoline close to the suspect's golf cart and power generator in the suspect's garage near the fire.
During an interview later in the day, the suspect stated to fire investigators that the house fire started while the suspect was attempting to add gasoline to his running generator. The suspect stated that this caused an unexpected flash and the suspect's garage to caught on fire. The suspect stated that he ran upstairs in his house to get his cellphone, and the fire already spread throughout the suspect's garage.
According to first responders arrived at the fire scene and they asserted that the suspect had no burns on his hair, skin, or clothing, and the suspect did not smell like smoke and gasoline, which investigators said would have been the case if his description was accurate.
According to the suspect's arrest affidavit, the suspect's neighbors also supposedly called 911 before the suspect, after massive flames were already covering the suspect's garage.
Fire investigators allege that the suspect had difficulties trying to sell his house two years prior to the fire, and the suspect took out a homeowners' insurance policy that was $100,000 over the house's appraisal value. According to court records regarding the case, the suspect's "nonchalant" attitude and his contradictory accounts of the fire gave fire investigators probable cause to press charges against the suspect. The suspect bonded out of jail and is awaiting his first court appearance.