Small gesture softens fatal fire scene

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 01, 2016

HAMILTON, Ohio -- M.C. Radin's gesture is small, compared with Firefighter Patrick Wolterman's memorial service and funeral procession Thursday.

But it's no less heartfelt.

Radin Sr. lives next to the Pater Avenue home where the 28-year-old Wolterman fell and suffered fatal injuries early Monday, as he looked for a couple who, it turned out, had left hours before a fire started there.

Fire investigators are still working to determine how the fire started, and the home, belonging to Lester and Bertha Parker, still has the yellow tape and signs typical of a fire scene.

Firefighter Patrick Wolterman

But it's also softened by seven flags, taped to orange cones, Radin placed in honor of the firefighter, a sign of respect for his sacrifice.

"What the Bible tells us is that there is no greater love than a man who lays his life down for a friend, and that means your neighbor or anybody that you know," he said. "And I asked the fire department if I could do that, and they said yes you can."

In addition to the sorrow he feels for Wolterman's family, Radin also has a sense of dread that perhaps the fire or smoke could have taken his life and his wife's. His daughter's dogs were barking because of the smoke and flames.

"My daughter up the street called and said, 'Dad, their house is on fire' -- that's why we got out. And if hadn't been for her dogs, we would probably be having funerals for both of us," Radin said.

Princeton Pike Church of God hosted 3,700 people, including 2,000 uniformed firefighters, for Wolterman's memorial service Thursday. And hundreds line the route of his funeral procession to Spring Grove Cemetery.

PHOTOS: Mourners honor Firefighter Patrick Wolterman

Fire investigators were working to determine what sparked the fatal fire. Lester Parker said he took precautions, including unplugging nearly all electronics, before leaving town to celebrate his 45th wedding anniversary in Las Vegas. A police officer responding to a burglary alarm was the first to discover the fire at the Parkers' home.

Documents show officers also responded to the home Nov. 18 for another burglary report. Lester Parker said he lost a number of items that night, including some firearms. He also said wires connecting his ADT security system were cut. That incident made Parker and his wife nervous to leave town Sunday night.

MORE: House was burglarized weeks earlier, police say

"I didn't want anyone to know that I was gone, because I had a break-in a while back where they cut my ADT lines and broke in and stole a bunch of shotguns and guns and bunch of stuff I had," Parker told WCPO.

According to Hamilton police, investigators have found no indication that Monday's fire began as a result of criminal activity.