WEBSTER, N.Y. — Four volunteer firefighters responding to an intense pre-dawn house fire were shot Monday morning, two fatally, leading to a shootout between a suspect and police in suburban Rochester, N.Y., police said.
“One or more shooters” fired at the firefighters after they arrived shortly after 5:30 a.m. at the blaze near the Lake Ontario shore, just east of Rochester, Town of Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said.
There was no active shooter at the scene later Monday morning, according to Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn. The first Webster police officer who arrived on the scene exchanged gunfire with the shooter, Flynn said, but he had no other information on the shootout.
The West Webster Fire District received a report of a car and house on fire on Lake Road, on a narrow peninsula where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario, Flynn said.
“When they got there, they stated to take on rounds and the initial responders were struck,” the sheriff said.
The two wounded firefighters were in critical condition at a Rochester hospital, Flynn said.
The fire started in one home and spread to two others and a car, officials said. The fire appeared from a distance as a pulsating ball of flame glowing against the early morning sky, flames licking into treetops and reflecting on the water, with huge bursts of smoke billowing away in a brisk wind.
Webster, a middle-class, lakeside suburb, now is the scene of violence linked to house fires for two Decembers in a row.
Last Dec. 7, authorities say, a 15-year-old boy doused his home with gasoline and set it ablaze, killing his father and two brothers, 16 and 12. His mother and 13-year-old sister escaped with injuries. He is being prosecuted as an adult.