2 N.C. volunteer FFs charged with DWI following crash en route to fire

Orrum Township Volunteer Fire Department's assistant chief and Fairmont Rural Fire Department's deputy chief are also facing arson charges linked to a 2018 case


UPDATE: Dec. 8, 2021

Two volunteer firefighters have been suspended from local fire departments after DWI charges, according to Robeson County Attorney Rob Davis.

Robeson County sent out a message this week to Orrum Township Volunteer and Fairmont Rural fire departments that indicated the county would take action and pull funding and pension benefits from the departments if departments did not take action in suspending Melquan Williams and Kenneth Caulder Jr., who both face DWI and arson charges, Davis said. The men also have a 30-day drivers license revocation.

Both men had been suspended Tuesday afternoon, he said.

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Jessica Horne
The Robesonian

FAIRMONT, N.C. — Two local volunteer firefighters have been charged with DWI following a crash en route to a fire, according to the State Highway Patrol.

Orrum Township Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Kenneth Aaron Caulder Jr. and Melquan Williams, deputy chief of Fairmont Rural Fire Department, have been charged with DWI and had their driver's licenses revoked for 30 days following a crash on Saturday, according to Trooper J.L. Locklear, of the State Highway Patrol. Williams was to become chief of the department in January.

The case is being investigated by the Robeson County Fire Marshal's Office, according to Stephanie Chavis, county fire marshal and Emergency Operations director.

Locklear said the two men were responding to a structure fire when the crash occurred. Williams was following Caulder's vehicle. Both men were driving their personal vehicles.

Caulder, of Pinewood Road in Fairmont, crashed his Jeep on N.C. 41 near Fairmont about 2:31 a.m., according to a crash report by the State Highway Patrol. Caulder's Jeep traveling north on N.C. 41 crashed after the vehicle crossed the centerline, "ran off the road to the right and struck a ditch."

He refused to take a breathalyzer test, according to Locklear.

Caulder and his female passenger, who were not wearing seat belts, were ejected. Both were transported by Robeson County EMS to UNC Health Southeastern for treatment of minor injuries, according to Locklear. The passenger's name has not been released.

Williams had a "strong odor of alcohol," Locklear said.

He later blew a .14, the trooper said.

"In North Carolina, it is illegal to drive a vehicle while noticeably impaired or with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher," according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

In July 2018, Caulder and Williams were among 10 firefighters with Fairmont Rural and Orrum Township Volunteer fire departments charged with arson. Charges came after an investigation by the Robeson County Sheriff's Office; State Bureau of Investigation; Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the N.C. Forest Service.

Caulder was charged with six counts of felony arson, burning church, uninhabited house, store, two counts of felony setting fire to grass, brush, woods, and seven counts of felony conspiracy. He will appear in court for arson charges on Jan. 14 and on Jan. 20 for the DWI charge.

Williams lost his job as a Maxton police officer in 2018 following the arson investigation, of which received charges of one count each of felony arson, burning church, uninhabited house, store, and felony conspiracy. He will appear in court Jan. 7 for arson charges and Jan. 20 for DWI.

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(c)2021 The Robesonian 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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