Former Prince George’s Co. volunteer firefighters accused of setting fires at abandoned homes

Five volunteer firefighters with the West Lanham Hills department have been indicted for allegedly working with civilians to set fires at abandoned homes — all so they could put out the flames, according to Prince George’s County, Maryland, State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy.

“It is unacceptable and it’s disheartening and it makes us angry,” Braveboy said during a Friday news conference in Largo. “These are individuals who absolutely know the devastation that can be caused by fire.”

Her comments came after a yearlong investigation into arson cases from 2019 and 2020.

The indicted volunteers are accused of working with three civilians to set fires at four vacant structures “solely for the purpose of being called to and extinguishing those fires,” Fire and EMS Battalion Chief Shajahan Jagtiani said.

He said they “had knowledge of and were involved in the planning of arsons.”

The five accused were taken off the job at the start of the investigation.

One firefighter has been arrested. The others have been given criminal summonses.

All of them face multiple charges.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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