The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has put 16 state firefighters on paid leave—though it's not totally clear why as officials sift through preliminary results of an investigation into something of a sordid mess. As the Sacramento Bee reports, at the heart of the allegations is 56-year-old Orville Fleming, a former CalFire battalion chief and fire academy instructor who in May was charged in the grisly murder of 26-year-old Sarah Douglas, a former escort and Fleming's live-in girlfriend. Fleming's estranged wife, Meagan, at the time told Sacramento County sheriffs that she had seen a video of Douglas having sex with her husband and other firefighters aboard firetrucks. CalFire asked the California Highway Patrol to investigate.
And while a CalFire rep says "allegations of a sex tape are unfounded," and that the suspensions were due to "a variety of policy violations unrelated to allegations of a sex tape," the full results of the CHP investigation won't be released until early January, notes the AP. Meagan Fleming further alleged that Orville Fleming and other firefighters had sex with prostitutes on firetrucks; a CalFire rep calls that determination "something we are waiting for" from the investigation. "I think everyone was taken by surprise with this," says a CalFire union rep. "This (is a) very unfortunate situation that the employees of Cal Fire—all of us—are now having to deal with." (Read more firefighters stories.)