UPPER SADDLE RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Investigators are looking into a string of fires they believe may have been started by a volunteer firefighter.
Bergen County prosecutors said 23-year-old volunteer firefighter Brian Alvarez was arrested Tuesday after a “suspicious” fire at an abandoned Upper Saddle River house, reports CBS 2’s Emily Smith.
Arson investigators said someone intentionally set the fire in the back of the house from the outside and that Alvarez reported the fire and was one of the first firefighters on the scene to help put out the blaze.
But now, he’s being investigated for that house fire and other fire calls he’s made to authorities.
Criminologist Casey Jordan studies profiles of arsonists. She said most volunteer firefighters accused of arson fall into the fire buff category.
“It’s very common to confuse the hero with the fire buff,” said Jordan. “They won’t endanger a human life intentionally but they always report the fire. They want the credit.”
That’s in contrast to someone who wants to play the role of a fire hero. Last month, police arrested 21-year-old Trent Bronner. He’s accused of torching two buildings in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. with people inside. Bronner received firefighter of the year.
“The hero wanna-be really wants the attention,” said Jordan. “They will create a fire which puts somebody’s life at risk.”
CBS 2’s Smith tried to speak with Alvarez at his home, but his former roommate, who wouldn’t go on camera, told us he cut ties with Alvarez after the arrest.
Alvarez’s bail has been set at $75,000.
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