A fire broke out Wednesday in the apartment of a volunteer firefighter who received racist threats earlier this week.
According to The Buffalo Times, firefighters were called to put out a fire at a North Tonawanda, New York, apartment complex where Kenneth Walker, his wife and two children lived. The Walkers were not home, but two tenants who were asleep in their own apartments, woke up when the smoke detector went off.
Thankfully, no one was injured other than Walkers two cats who died in the flames.
Amanda Walker, Walker’s wife, stressed that she believes the fire was an act of retaliation for her husband not resigning from the Gratwick Hose volunteer fire department, as a threatening anonymous letter demanded, the newspaper noted. The letter, which was found in their mailbox on Monday night, urged Walker to quit his job and also called him the n-word.
“We believe it was retaliation. The letter said if he didn’t resign from the fire company, he’d regret it,” Mrs. Walker said.
The Walkers met with the FBI on Wednesday to discuss the fire, but North Tonawanda Fire Chief Joseph Sikora wouldn’t confirm if race motivated the blaze, despite him being “appalled” by the threatening letters.
“The fire is under investigation. That’s all I can say,” Sikora said on Wednesday. “We called in the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control for a couple more investigators to make sure we cover everything.”
However, the town’s Mayor Arthur G. Pappas was clear that whoever set the fire, will be severely punished.
“We’re totally disgusted that anyone would continue to do this. Whoever is responsible is certainly doing something that’s very distasteful and hateful,” Pappas said.
“Needless to say we are appalled by this situation as it does not represent what the City of North Tonawanda stands for. I as mayor and the Common Council will not tolerate this type of behavior in our community. Any threats against our police, fire or other personnel are taken very seriously, as it is for all of our citizens,” he added.
In the meantime, Walker, who has worked for the local fire department for two years, isn’t sure if he’ll resign.
“I don’t know, I haven’t thought that far. They are still investigating to determine if it is related. I am going to let the police and firefighters do their jobs. Right now I am going to be there for my family. Right now it is a lot to take in. I can’t say if it is related to the threat I received Monday … or maybe it was something we left on,” he said.
But he also recognizes that to resign means whoever set the fire wins.
“I don’t want to please them. At the same time I am going to do what I have to do to protect my family. I am still going to live my life,” Walker concluded.
What a shame. Sending our prayers to the Walker family for this horrible ordeal.