Posted by Dave Dykema - email
TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - One of the three fires overnight had a disturbing twist: an apparent booby trap.
In a house on Utica St., a hole was cut into the floor before the fire was set.
Beto Garcia lives just feet away from Tuesday night's booby trap fire, and was just in the house with the owner, checking it out after a small fire a couple of days ago.
"I was in there and I could see the floor real good. So if it did happen, it probably happened last night," Garcia said.
If a firefighter had fallen through that hole it could have been disastrous. The task force looking into the recent rash of abandoned house fires says it's not all that uncommon to encounter something like the hole.
"We do run into some situations, especially with some vacant houses, where they're set traps by cutting holes in the floors or setting multiple points of origin with the fires," Toledo Fire Captain John Kaminski said.
One firefighter says he's seen bags of gasoline suspended across a room that could burst and douse a firefighter who runs into it.
Nicole Knight, a firefighter-paramedic, said life at a fire station can go from a shared experience of camaraderie to something much more intense. "You don't know who's staying there, if the floors are intact, if the walls are intact. You don't know what you're walking into since they're abandoned."
As Knight and the others at Fire Station 5 get ready for another night, they fully realize there could be somebody trying a similar trick right now.
"We're together. We're feeling walls, feeling floors all around to make sure we stay safe while we're in there," Knight said.
Copyright 2011 WTOL. All rights reserved.
730 North Summit Street