Booby-Trapped Home Endangers Ohio Firefighters

Updated: 05-23-2006 02:14:00 PM

Courtesy of WTOL

NORTH TOLEDO -- Toledo firefighters spent their night putting out a stubborn blaze in north Toledo. But when they got inside the building, they got more than they bargained for.

The fire happened around 1:00am at 1986 Chase Street, near Galena. Crews arrived to find the back of the vacant house fully engulfed in flames. The battalion chief tells us it is a clear case of arson.

But when firefighters got inside, they found the house had been booby-trapped. "When they got inside, they found holes in the floor, cut for them to drop through," said Battalion Chief Jerry Abair of the Toledo Fire Department, "And also some cans of fuel set to ignite and booby-trap our guys."

Chief Abair says the holes in the floor were covered with rugs, and couldn't be easily seen. He said firefighters often enter burning vacant buildings on their hands and knees for that very reason.

Firefighters waited until the fire burned through the roof, so they could pour water on the flames from above. No one was hurt. County real estate records show the building is owned by Dennis Szabo.

While Toledo Fire Department Captain William Hickey says the term "booby-trapped" is too strong of a word to describe what happened in this fire, but it's certainly highly suspicious and very dangerous. "Anytime we as firefighters go into a vacant structure in the middle of the night - like that and find holes in the floor - it's a perilous situation and it is very suspicious," said Hickey.

By mid-morning, the building was torn down by city crews. Neighbors say they're glad. "Whoever's doing these fires, they really need to get a hold of it. They really do before someone gets hurt," said Janet Della Flora of north Toledo.