TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – The owner of an apartment building where two Toledo firefighters died in a fast-moving blaze was charged in their deaths Friday.
Investigators charged Ray Abou-Arab with two counts each of aggravated murder and arson, according to court documents filed in Toledo Municipal Court.
Abou-Arab, 61, was arrested Friday afternoon and was being held at the Lucas County jail. A message left at his home in the Toledo suburb of Oregon was not immediately returned.
Authorities said Abou-Arab used a flammable liquid to start the fire that killed firefighters Stephen Machcinski and James Dickman on Sunday afternoon.
Radio calls from the scene of the fire indicated that the pair faced rapidly deteriorating conditions once inside the six-unit apartment building near downtown. Firefighters found them inside, carried them out and tried unsuccessfully to save them.
Autopsies showed that Machcinski and Dickman died from burns and carbon monoxide. No one else was seriously injured in the blaze.
According to court documents, one apartment resident told investigators that the fire broke out soon after Abou-Arab came out of a garage. Abou-Arab used an ignitable liquid inside the garage to start the fire, an investigator said in a complaint filed in court.
About 5,000 people, including firefighters from Ohio and around the nation, attended a memorial service inside Toledo’s downtown convention center.
At the memorial service, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown hailed Machcinski , 42, and Dickman, 31, as men of integrity who loved their families and took pride in their work.
Machcinski, who was single, had been a firefighter for 16 years. Dickman had been on the job for six months and was previously with the Perkins Township fire department near Sandusky. He was married with a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-month-old son.
Friends said Dickman joined the Toledo department because it was his dream to work with a big city department.
Dickman’s funeral took place Friday in Sandusky. The funeral for Machcinski will be Saturday morning in Toledo.
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