10 volunteer firefighters in North Carolina charged with arson

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Ten volunteer firefighters in Robeson County were arrested in an arson investigation. (WTVD)

Following a year-long investigation, 10 volunteer firefighters have been arrested and accused of intentionally setting fires to abandoned homes and woods throughout Robeson County.

Sheriff Ken Sealey said firefighters with the Fairmont and Orrum Fire Department set the fires over a two-year period.

A Maxton police officer and NC Department of Corrections officer were also charged in connection with the investigation.



There were 90 arson-related charges with more expected, the sheriff said.

The 10 volunteer firefighters arrested were:
  • Melquan Williams, 21, of Fairmont. Williams, a former Maxton police officer is charged with one count of felony, arson, burning church, uninhabited house, store, one count felony, conspiracy, His bond was set at $200,000.

  • Austin Seth Hunt, 23, of Rowland, who works for the Department of Corrections, is charged with 1 count of felony, setting fire to grass, brush, woods, two counts felony, arson, burning church, uninhabited house, store, five counts felony, setting fire to grass, brush, woods and five counts felony conspiracy. His bond was set at $200,000.

  • Ashley Marie Oxendine, 18, of Orrum, is charged with two counts felony setting fire to grass, brush, woods, two counts felony conspiracy. Her bond was set at $100,000.

  • John Austin Huggins, 17, of Fairmont, is charged with two counts felony setting fire to grass, brush, woods, two counts felony, arson, burning church, uninhabited house, store and four counts felony conspiracy. His bond was set at $100,000.

  • Jordan Scott, 19, of Fairmont, is charged with four counts felony setting fire to grass, brush, woods, five counts felony arson, burning church, uninhabited house, store, and nine counts felony conspiracy. His bond was set at $100,000.

  • Kenny Caulder Jr., 19, of Fairmont, is charged with six counts felony arson, burning church, uninhabited house, store, two counts felony setting fire to grass, brush, woods and seven counts of felony conspiracy. His bond was set at $100,000.

  • Willie Fuentes Strickland, 42, of Fairmont, is charged with two counts of felony setting fire to grass, brush, woods, one count of felony arson, burning church, uninhabited house, store and three counts of felony, conspiracy. His bond was set at $100,000.

  • Jordan Emmanuel Hunt, 18, of Fairmont, is charged with four counts of felony setting fire to grass, brush, woods, 12 counts of felony conspiracy. His bond was set at $100,000.

  • Shellia Huggins, 19, of Fairmont is charged with two counts of felony setting fire to grass, brush, woods, two counts of felony arson, burning church, uninhabited house, store, and four counts of felony conspiracy. Her bond was set at $100,000.

  • William Kendall Strickland, 18, of Fairmont, NC is charged with one count of misdemeanor larceny, one count of felony setting fire to grass, brush, woods and one count of felony conspiracy. His bond was set at $100,000.


All 10 were placed in the Robeson County Detention Center.

Sealey also said the actions of the firefighters have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.

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Firefighters with the Fairmont and Orrum Fire Department set the fires over a two-year period.



"This investigation is not about any particular fire department. It's an investigation involving individuals," Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey said.

Chief State Fire Marshal Brian Taylor said all North Carolina fire departments were fully functional and that there are no coverage issues in Robeson County.

The Robeson County Sheriff's Office, State Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the NC Forestry Service were involved in the investigation.

The locations of fires affected were:
  • Eldorado Rd., Fairmont, NC

  • Collins Mill Rd., Fairmont, NC

  • Oakton Church Rd., Fairmont, NC

  • Atkinson Road, Fairmont, NC

  • Raynham Road, Fairmont, NC

  • Reva Road, Fairmont, NC

  • NC Highway 130, Fairmont, NC

  • Main Street, Fairmont, NC

  • Mitchell Rd., Fairmont, NC

  • Davis Road, Fairmont, NC

  • Happy Hill Road, Fairmont, NC

  • Marion Stage Road, Fairmont, NC

  • Pleasant Hope Road, Fairmont, NC
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