Statement of Fire Chief Leonard Hartman, fire investigator at the scene


"The Oberlin fire company responded to a 911 call reporting a suspected fire at Apartment 2, 110 West Park Street, at approximately 9:12 pm, Tuesday, October 17. We arrived at the scene at about 9:17 pm. No smoke or flames were visible from the exterior of the building. Inside the building the smell of smoke was fairly strong. The door of the apartment suspected of being on fire was locked; fire-fighters broke through. The fire in the apartment had almost burned itself out when we got there; a little water doused the last flames. On the couch near the site of the fire was the body of a man, apparently dead; there was a gun on the floor near him. At that time, I radioed the dispatcher requesting police backup.

My examination of the fire scene led me to conclude that the fire was not accidental in origin. The burned area was not large, and the fire had burned itself out relatively quickly, indicating that the carpet was extremely fire resistant. To burn at all, the carpet would have to be virtually saturated with a large amount of some sort of accelerant. I suspect the carpet stopped burning at the outer limit of the accelerant-soaked region. Luckily, no readily ignitable furniture was near the point of origin. I recommended to DSG Hook that the carpet at the suspected point of origin be tested for accelerant residue."