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Punishment Mulled After Convicted Former Firefighter Caught Responding To Blaze

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(Photo Credit: Police)

(Photo Credit: Police)

GRIFFIN Marty Griffin
Marty Griffin returned to KDKA-TV as an Investigative Reporter in...
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MT. OLIVER (KDKA) – A lot has happened since KDKA broke the story of a former firefighter convicted of arson seen responding to a recent house fire.

With the cause of the fire still unknown, sources confirm investigators want to talk to Francis Kestner, Jr. about his whereabouts when the fire started.

Sources also say his probation status is being looked into. He’s currently on probation for arson and a sex assault. His probation could be revoked.

All of this is happening as the Mt. Oliver Fire Department tries to figure out how to punish the firefighters who let Kestner Jr. fight a fire Saturday night.

The picture that got things started was taken by a bystander at the scene.

It shows Kestner in full fire gear. He was also seen on KDKA’s video footage from the scene. He’s no longer a firefighter and not allowed to wear the gear.

Mt. Oliver Mayor James Cassidy understands that.

“I know with a conviction he’s not allowed to be a member of the fire department,” he said.

For the first time, we are able to learn how he got to this fire.

Sources confirm Kestner walked into the Mt. Oliver fire house Saturday. The door was up, others were headed to the fire scene on Margaret Street.

Sources also say Kestner took another firefighter’s gear, put it on and drove the fire in his pickup truck. He then grabbed a hose and started working the fire.

Supervisors on the fire knew he was there and didn’t stop him, sources also confirm.

“The fire department is already setting up an internal investigation,” said Cassidy. “They have to get their board members together.”

The executive board met at the firehouse Tuesday night. Officials say they’ll now make some changes.

“The board has decided we’re going to handle it internally,” said Tim Sherman of the Mt. Oliver PD Board. “We are  — I spoke to you guys earlier about our garage door being open, when we have structure fires. We’re going to have some police procedures that govern as the truck leaves,  the door’s gotta come down.”

Officials say they’ll secure the fire house and equipment.

“It is an isolated incident,” Sherman said. “It never happened before and I can guarantee that it’s never going to happen again.”

Sources confirm the plan is to either suspend or dismiss any firefighters who had knowledge that Kestner was at the fire and allowed him to fight the fire without ordering him to stop – or calling police.

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