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I-Team: West Hazleton Fire Department Investigation

WEST HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A Luzerne County fire department is the focus of a police investigation.. It all has to do with alleged financial discrepancies. Lead I-Team Reporter Andy Mehalshick is working the case and is here with a story you will only see on Eyewitness News.

 This story is developing.  The target of the investigation is the West Hazleton fire department. In recent days residents contacted the I-Team saying they had concerns about the handling of the fire department money...they want answers....

 

"The borough is aware of it. I really can’t say much about it since it is an ongoing investigation right now."  said  West Hazleton Mayor John Chura.  He tells the I-Team his administration is cooperating with West Hazleton police as it looks into allegations of financial discrepancies within the fire department .

 The police chief said he would  neither confirm nor deny that investigation-- but sources close to the case tell the I-Team the probe began when a state audit raised some questions about the operation of the West Hazleton fire company.

    The fire company is a separate legal entity which helps run the West Hazleton fire department.

    The fire company trains and supervisors volunteers and helps purchase equipment for the fire department..

    The president of the fire company , Klair Lemon, told the I-Team:

 “The issues that were raised in the state audit have been rectified. We have nothing to hide.."

 

   But the i-team has been told the investigation is looking specifically at how certain funds used by the fire company on behalf of the fire department were being spent.

   The mayor says this probe does not impact the safety of residents

  

"I would like to reassure the residents of West Hazleton that fire protection is not going to be stopped for any reason."

 

Fire department chief Shawn Evans--resigned last week. He’s also the chief of the fire company. He told the I-Team he resigned from the department for health reasons but remains the head of the fire company.

     He insists the fire company has nothing to hide. The borough council will appoint an interim fire chief for the fire department at a special meeting  Monday night.

Again, no one has been charged with any wrongdoing. 


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