The house fire that killed Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman has been ruled an arson, police announced today. Because of that, the firefighter’s death is being investigated as a homicide.
Police are offering a $10,000 reward to anyone with information on the case.
Wolterman, 28, died Monday, Dec. 28, from injuries he sustained while battling a blaze in the Hamilton home. He was the department’s first fatality in the line of duty since 1971.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call Crimestoppers at 513-352-3040.
Lester and Bertha Parker’s two-story house caught fire about 1 a.m. Dec. 28. Wolterman fell through the floor into the basement of the house.
The fire was discovered by a police officer investigating a security alarm, according to police and fire scanner traffic reviewed by the Journal-News. The police officer told dispatchers there was smoke coming from an open cellar door.
The Parkers left their residence for a 45th wedding anniversary trip to Las Vegas just hours before the alarm in the home alerted police dispatchers.
“Heavy smoke coming out of it … too heavy to get close,” the officer says in scanner chatter.
A dispatcher also says they have a report of a fire at 1310 Pater Avenue. In a 911 call released Monday by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, a man who said he was across the street at a church, said, “something is on fire.”
The officer tells the dispatcher there may be an “old man and woman” who live in the home.
At 1:13 a.m., the police officer tells the dispatcher, “there is heavy smoke coming from the cellar. There is an open cellar door in the back.”
At about 2:36 a.m., after Wolterman was rushed to Fort Hamilton Hospital and additional fire units were called to assist, a police officer asked the dispatcher exactly where the alarm had detected motion. Her answer was, “dining room, front door and rear door times two.”