Pine Hill firefighter charged with arson in connection with July 11 brush fire
PINE HILL, N.Y. — A member of the Pine Hill Fire Department has been charged with arson for setting a brush fire last week, the Shandaken Police Department said on Tuesday.
Zachary A. Rogers, 23, of Academy Street, Pine Hill, was charged on Monday with misdemeanor arson as well as misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief, official misconduct and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, according to Detective Fred Holland.
Holland said Rogers was charged after police began investigating suspicious brush fires that occurred July 1 and 11 on New York City Department of Environmental Protection property on Birch Street in the Shandaken hamlet of Pine Hill.
“Evidence and a witness’ statement led us to Rogers, and he was arrested for the July 11 fire,” Holland said.
Holland said police believe Rogers also set the July 1 fire but that there only was enough evidence to charge him with the July 11 blaze.
“We have determined both fires are connected to the same person,” Holland said, noting the second fire was set only 10 feet from the first.
Holland said Rogers drove off after starting the July 11 fire but left behind evidence with his name on it. The detective said Rogers then realized his vehicle’s alternator was going, turned around and went back to his home to get another vehicle.
“A witness saw Rogers’ vehicle drive off, then come back. The witness then saw smoke,” Holland said.
The same witness also saw the July 1 fire and notified police both times, he said.
Nothing other than brush was damaged in either fire, Holland said. Continued...
Holland said Rogers was a new member of the all-volunteer Pine Hill Fire Department, having recently moved to the area from East Spencer, N.C., where he also was a firefighter.
“Pine Hill did a background check on Rogers and was told (there were) no problems with him,” Holland said.
Pine Hill Fire Chief Lowell Smith said Rogers’s arrest was a “shame.”
“He seemed like a good kid, but we could not sweep this under the rug,” Smith said.
The chief said Rogers came to him and apologized for his actions.
“I told him I was very disappointed in him, but I was glad he got caught,” Smith said.
Rogers was released with an appearance ticket that directs him to appear in Shandaken Town Court at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, police said.
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