By John Burton
FREEHOLD – A Union Beach man, who was a member of the Hazlet First Aid Squad, was arrested and charged Monday with starting a fire at the squad building Sunday night.
Hazlet police arrested Ronald Schroeder, 43, and charged him with second-degree aggravated arson, according to Charles Webster, public information officer for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
Schroeder is being held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution on $100,000 bail without the option to post a 10 percent bond. As a condition of his bail, he must not return to the first aid squad building, according to Webster.
A cooperative investigation, conducted by Hazlet police, the prosecutor’s office and the county fire marshal, determined the fire was intentionally set. The investigation also found there was one member in the building at the time when the fire was believed to have begun. Authorities identified that person as Schroeder, who has been a squad member for a short period of time, Webster said.
Authorities said the fire was set in the building’s lounge area and that Schroeder left as the fire began to intensify. Schroeder did, however, return while firefighters were on the scene, authorities said.
Hazlet firefighters from the West Keansburg and North Centerville fire companies responded to the 5:07 p.m. call Sunday. The fire was eventually extinguished with the assistance of the Union Beach and Matawan fire departments, according to Webster.
A conviction for aggravated arson can result in a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, according to Webster.