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Coroner: Firefighter died of smoke inhalation

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Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 11:37:35-05

HAMILTON, Ohio — Smoke inhalation is what killed a Hamilton firefighter in late December, a death that also has been ruled officially a homicide by the Butler County coroner.

Butler County Coroner Lisa Mannix announced the cause of death late Wednesday afternoon, two months after Hamilton Firefighter Patrick Wolterman, 28, fell through the floor of a residence while fighting a blaze on Dec. 28.

“Other significant conditions contributing to the line of duty death were carbon monoxide toxicity and thermal injuries,” according to a report filed by Andy Willis, a coroner’s office investigator.

Hamilton law enforcement had already ruled the blaze on Pater Ave. an arson case, and police began investigating Wolterman’s death as a homicide less than a week after the fire occurred.

The coroner’s ruling now makes the case officially a homicide in the eyes of the court, should a suspect be found and charged.

Emergency crews were alerted to the fire by a triggered burglary alarm. When police arrived at the home, they found heavy smoke pouring out of the two-story building. At the time, the owners of the residence were out of town on vacation.

As WCPO previously reported, the residence had been burglarized just weeks before the intruder alarm, triggered again, led law enforcement to discover the fire.

Authorities have offered a $25,000 reward to anyone with information that could lead to a suspect. Tipsters can call Crimestoppers at 513-352-3040.

Lauren Pack with WCPO news partner the Journal-News contributed to this report. Read her initial report here.