Jan. 25--RIO HONDO -- Two volunteer firefighters accused of setting fire to an unoccupied house "for fun" are teenagers, one a member of the Volunteer Fire Department for 10 months and the other with the department for less than two months.
Daniel Davis, 17, applied for membership in the department on Dec. 11, an official said. Alexander Benavidez, 18, applied on March 18.
Both were arrested this week on arson charges, accused of setting fire to the unoccupied house on Brown Tract Road, south of FM 106, Wednesday night.
Davis and Benavidez were among the firefighters who responded to the scene, an official said.
At 17, Davis is considered legally an adult, said Chief Weldon Matlock, Rio Hondo's police chief and fire chief.
"Daniel Davis was in the beginning stages of becoming a full-blown member. He still wasn't technically a full-blown member (of the fire department) because in order to be a member you have to show up for two meetings and then you become a member," Matlock said Friday.
"There is a process to becoming a full-blown member."
Matlock did not immediately have information available on the extent of training each has received.
"Not off the top of my head," Matlock said. "Davis, probably next to none, just because he just started. Alexander Benavidez, he had just the training here around the station that was given because the actual fire courses are yearly and they don't start until the end of February, and he came on board after February" of 2013.
The Rio Hondo Volunteer Fire Department has 16 members of various ages, the oldest being in his late 50s, Matlock said.
Because they are volunteers, they are not paid.
Cameron County Emergency Management Coordinator Humberto Barrera said the Davis and Benavidez set fire to the house "for fun" and that the teens responded to fight the blaze.
Officials are investigating a series of fires that occurred in the area over the last several months, Barrera said. He did not identify the locations but said there were at least 10 fires being reviewed.
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