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Two volunteer firefighters killed in ambush at NY house fire

December 24. 2012 2:07PM
A fire burns on Lake Road after a suspect shot four firefighters responding to a blaze in Webster, N.Y. (Reuters)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two upstate New York volunteer firefighters were shot and killed and three others were wounded on Monday at the scene of an early morning house fire in a suburb of Rochester, authorities said.

The two firefighters were shot by a gunman - who was later found dead - as they responded to the scene of several house fires in Webster, New York, according to a spokeswoman for New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Another two firefighters were injured in the shooting and were rushed to Strong Memorial Hospital, where they remained in "guarded" condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman. A third victim, an off-duty police officer, was hit by stray gunfire as he was driving by the scene.

A body believed to be that of the shooter was later found by police outside one of the homes where the fire began. The assailant was killed by gunfire, though it was not immediately clear if the wounds were self-inflicted, authorities said.

The fire burned throughout the morning as police secured the area as a crime scene and evacuated area residents.

The dead volunteer firefighters were identified as Lt. Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, according to Michelle Hook, the attorney general's spokeswoman.

The injured firefighters were identified as Joseph Hofsetter and Theodore Scardino, and the off-duty police officer was identified as John Ritter.

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