SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A volunteer firefighter in Sleepy Hollow pleaded guilty Monday to doing the exact opposite of his job and setting a fire that left 19 people homeless.
Trent Bronner, 23, pleaded guilty to three counts of arson in connection with the incident on March 20, 2011, according to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.
Around 5:10 a.m. that day, a resident of Cedar Street in Sleepy Hollow awoke when her dog started barking. She looked out the window to discover that the porch was on fire at a house nearby at 13 Cedar St.
The woman said she evacuated her 80-year-old mother, fearing the fire would spread across electrical lines to her house. She then went outside and began screaming at the neighbors, urging them to evacuate.
The residents of 13 Cedar St. escaped as the fire spread to the house next door at 19 Cedar St. Both houses burned down and had to be condemned.
Nineteen people were displaced by the fire, which immediately seemed to be suspicious, prosecutors said.
Westchester authorities found the fire was deliberately set under the porch at 13 Cedar St., and Sleepy Hollow police started an investigation, prosecutors said. They learned that Bronner had previously admitted to setting another fire at 128 Cortlandt St. in Sleepy Hollow on July 19, 2010, prosecutors said.
Bronner was arrested on April 27, 2011. He was a longtime Sleepy Hollow resident and had been a member of the Sleepy Hollow Volunteer Fire Department for three years when he set the fire, prosecutors said.
“The guys are very disappointed for one of the simple facts that he was a very active firefighter. He was around all the time. You call and ask him to do anything; he’d be the first guy to sign up for training. He’s very active with our junior corps. He always helped the kids out,” Sleepy Hollow Fire Chief John Korzelius told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams in 2011.
Bronner posted photos on Facebook of the fire he set, authorities said at the time.
Bronner faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 9.
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