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Local firefighter charged in brush fire investigation

Published: 4/27/2015

For More Information Contact:

Captain John Watterson
(845) 486-3860

The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest of Nicholas C. Hughes, age 24 of Wappinger, in connection with a large brush fire that occurred near the Dutchess Rail Trail in Wappinger on 4/15/15. Mr. Hughes is a volunteer firefighter with the East Fishkill Fire Department.

On 4/15/15 at approximately 1:00 pm, the Sheriff’s Office responded to a secluded area off Route 376 near the Dutchess Rail Trail in Wappinger for a report of a large brush fire. The fire was fought by numerous firefighters in nine (9) different local fire companies, took approximately 5 hours to bring under control and damaged approximately 9 acres.

Once the fire had been extinguished, an investigation began to determine the source/cause, after which the fire was deemed to be suspicious and the Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau and Arson Investigation Unit became involved. During the afternoon of 4/22/15, Mr. Hughes was arrested and charged in connection with the fire, and at this time he is accused of intentionally setting it.

There were no injuries and no damage to the Dutchess Rail Trail as a result of the fire. At this time, Mr. Hughes has been charged with the following:

- Reckless endangerment 1st degree (Felony)
- Willfully setting a forest fire: (Felony)
- Arson 5th degree: (Misdemeanor)

After being processed, Mr. Hughes was arraigned before the Town of Wappinger Court and released to the supervision of the Department of Probation to be placed on electronic monitoring. No further details about the investigation or circumstances will be released at this time.

The investigation is continuing and anyone with information regarding suspicious fires in the Town of Wappinger or surrounding areas is asked to please contact Detective Harris or Detective Pfitscher at (845) 486-3820. Anyone with any information may also contact the Sheriff’s Office through the tipline at (845) 605-CLUE (2583) or All calls will be kept confidential.

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted in the investigation by the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office, the Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response, the New York State Environmental Conservation Police and the New York State Forest Rangers.

As with any criminal investigation, the charges described above are merely accusations and Mr. Hughes is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. More information may be released as it becomes available.