NJ firefighter accused of arson

May 19, 2009 4:03:17 PM PDT
A volunteer firefighter in Ocean County, New Jersey has been accused of being an arsonist.Cheryl Markow got a call from police at 10:30 Monday night telling her that they've arrested 20 year old probationary firefighter John Stancati of Jackson on arson charges.

Police say he set the fire that burned the woods next to Markow's home which then jumped to her house.

"He almost burned our house down. We were sleeping. Luckily they were awake, it could have killed us," Markow said.

Cheryl's daughter-in-law Julianne says it was Stancati who alerted her and her husband about the fire. She said he told them "I was driving past, I saw it right away. I can't believe how fast it spread."

"He was the first one on the scene. He was helping my husband, was helping him before the firefighters got here," Cheryl said.

Stancati, a volunteer member of Jackson Mills Station 54, is charged with setting five fires in all including two homes, two brush fires and a pile of debris.

"He was setting fires within the jurisdiction of Jackson Mills Station 54, which was in fact the station he was assigned to," said Dep. Chief Mike Mohel of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

On his MySpace page, Stancati writes that he's a volunteer firefighter and a full-time bank teller taking crimninal justice classes at Ocean County College.

He lives at home with his parents not far from where the fires were set. On Tuesday, his father declined to comment when we visited the Stancati home.

Firefighters aren't talking either. Officials at the station house declined comment .

Stancati is out on bail.

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