Home Fire News Investigators looking for arsonist who booby trapped building, tried to kill Firefighters

Investigators looking for arsonist who booby trapped building, tried to kill Firefighters

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A horrific tragedy was narrowly avoided early Friday morning in the town of Endicott, NY. A fire, set intentionally was meant to cause massive damage. A building that was once a synagogue was rigged for destruction at 117 Jefferson Avenue.

Endicott Fire Chief Joseph Griswold said, when firefighters entered the unoccupied building they found a trip wire and discovered the structure was “booby trapped from the basement to the attic.”


Endicott Fire Chief Joseph Griswold speaking about the building

Officials say in all they found: four 5-gallon cans, four gallon-sized plastic containers filled with gasoline, 20- and 30-pound containers filled with propane, and two small containers of butane.

An overwhelming odor of gas woke a nearby resident, who alerted the department, according to WBNG.  Five firefighters responded to the initial call, which came in at about 2am.

“It would have taken quite a while to rig the booby-traps, designed to tip the accelerant-filled canisters over as firefighters moved through the building,” Griswold added.

The Endicott Bomb Squad was called out also and neighboring residents were evacuated from their homes, according to FOX 40 News. “Who would want to hurt those whose job it is to save lives… nothing is sacred,” one shaken resident said.


Endicott Fire Crew evaluation the building

After he was about 20 feet inside the smoke-filled building, one firefighter said, “I think this is booby-trapped.”  That’s when David Abell spotted the trip wire connected to two gallon-sized jugs of gasoline.

Officials say an arsonist rigged up an “elaborate series of accelerants and trip wires.” In the stairwell, the person set a fire, officials believe, to “lure and then harm emergency responders,” pressconnects.com reported.

Firefighters said they were lucky the blaze was discovered early.  After finding the booby-traps, they quickly extinguished the small stairwell fire and knocked out windows on the ground-level, venting the smoke to get a better picture of the trap.

Fire investigators believe that had the fuel ignited and exploded, at least five nearby homes could have been damaged or destroyed and firefighters could have been killed.

“I’ve been in the fire service 40 years and I’ve seen a lot of intentionally set fires, but I’ve never seen one designed to kill the people called to put them out,” Griswold said.

The chief says the investigation is now in the hands of the police. A description of the suspect has not yet been released.

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