Italy: Fire Crew Questioned After Starting Fires For Cash

Authorities in Italy have questioned more than ten volunteers in southern Sicily accused of starting fires. The group allegedly started fires so they could get paid to stop them.

According to authorities, the alleged fraud would begin with volunteers, family or friends calling the emergency services. The fire crew was then called in to combat the fires. The group of volunteers, including the commander, have been accused of being part of the alleged fraud. They were getting paid ten euros per hour to combat the fires.

The alleged fraud would begin with the calls and after some years, the calls began raising suspicion. Police began investigating after they noticed that the fire crew was receiving many more calls than others. The fires were reported from 2013 to 2015.

Police arrested the commander of the fire crew. He was given house arrest while the others were not arrested because the fraud happened more than two years ago. According to local media, most of the volunteers questioned have admitted to committing fraud against the state. The fire crew, which was working in the Ragusa district, was allegedly putting out the fires that were being started by them while the commander has been accused of skipping shifts to start fires in the area.

After the calls raised suspicion, police began investigating the calls to see if they were real reports. The police found many mistakes in the calls made to report the fires. The most common mistake they found was that some of the calls were being made from the same phone number. According to police, different names were given out under the same phone number.

At times, the reports were for fires that didn’t exist. The fire crew would tell authorities that there were animals in the area. This was used to explain why they still had the water. Police recently said the commander is under house arrest while the more than ten volunteers were not arrested for being involved in the alleged fraud.