Fifteen volunteer firefighters have been arrested in Sicily on suspicion of starting wildfires and reporting non-existent blazes so they could earn €10 (£9) an hour for putting them out.
Police in Ragusa province, in the south of the Mediterranean island, said the fire department became suspicious when it emerged that the auxiliary brigade had responded to 120 incidents compared with just 40 tackled by other volunteer teams over the same period.
The brigade commander, a refrigeration technician identified as DDV, was deemed dangerous enough to be held under house arrest, the Ansa news agency reported, because he was suspected off continuing to start fires after others had stopped.
Most of the remaining team members, whose private phone calls were recorded as part of the investigation, have since admitted calling the 115 emergency number or getting friends or relatives to do so.
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