Butler, N.J.--Two firefighters who were already suspended from the Butler Fire Department will be issued secondary warnings for responding to a residential fire on Morse Avenue Saturday.
Butler Fire Chief Jim Neill said Wednesday that John B. Futcher III and William Meier, who were suspended in March after they were each charged with burglary, criminal mischief, possession of burglary tools, receiving stolen property and theft for their alleged involvement in a burglary of the Carey Avenue firehouse, were likely trying to assist with the fire, which is not allowed while suspended.
"They can be bystanders, but they can't cross that line," Neill said.
On Saturday, police and fire officials from Butler, Bloomingdale and Kinnelon responded to the residential fire on Morse Avenue shortly after 3:30 p.m. Butler police said a preliminary investigation revealed that the fire appeared to be caused by the spontaneous combustion of rags covered in varnish that were in a dumpster near the property. The home, which was vacant, was condemned after the fire due to the damage.
Neill said the charges "have to be sorted out" before the suspended firefighters are able to assist.
Another Butler firefighter who was also suspended in March after harassment charges were filed against him has returned to the department, Neill said. John B. Futcher Jr., father of John B. Futcher III, was reinstated as charges of harassment against him "have been expunged," Neill said.
A fourth Butler firefighter, Earl Dean, remains suspended from the department and is awaiting a Morris County court appearance this month on charges he allegedly fasified fire inspection reports while serving as the borough's fire inspector.
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