Two firefighters with the Shady Grove Volunteer Fire Department have been removed from the department after being charged with multiple counts of arson.
Kristopher Lecabellec, 20, and Tate Pankowski, 20, are both facing four counts of arson. Both men have been released from the Jones County Jail on $6,000 bonds.
Jones County Fire Coordinator Dan McKenna said authorities became suspicious of the pair after inconsistencies regarding several brush fires over the past month came to light. McKenna said the actions of the two men were also suspicious.
Shady Grove Fire Chief David Houston brought the information to the Jones County Emergency Operations Center, and the investigation began.
The investigation uncovered that calls reporting several brush fires had been made from phones belonging to firefighters. That’s when the State Fire Marshal’s Office was called in to investigate the cause of the fires.
Lecabellec and Pankowski were arrested and charged after an investigation by Deputy State Fire Marshal Kevin Butler.
McKenna said the behavior displayed by the firefighters will not be tolerated, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“While this is an embarrassment to the fire service, it should be recognized that these two insubordinate individuals have been removed from the elite remaining 35 firefighters that Shady Grove has in their department,” said McKenna. “There are over 300 volunteer firefighters in Jones County who each day answer the call that the citizens of the county make and perform their duties without question and to the best of their ability.”