Apartment fire at home of black firefighter who received threats now under investigation

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Kenneth Walker reacts as North Tonawanda police and fire officials investigate the scene of a fire that occurred in his home at Oliver and Felton on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

 

NORTH TONAWANDA — A fire broke out Wednesday afternoon in the apartment of a volunteer firefighter who received a threatening and racist letter earlier this week.

Firefighters were called early Wednesday afternoon to the blaze at an apartment house at 1096 Oliver St. in North Tonawanda where Kenneth Walker lives.

[Related: Feds look into racist letter sent to North Tonawanda firefighter]

No one was injured.

When the fire was discovered, Walker said that no one was in his apartment, where he lives with his wife and their two children. But two tenants were sleeping in two other apartments in the building. Alerted by smoke detectors, they fled as firefighters arrived.

Two of the family’s cats were killed in the fire.

[Related: Gratwick Hose to collect donations for firefighter, family]

Amanda Walker, his wife, said she believes that the fire was retaliation for her husband not resigning from the Gratwick Hose volunteer fire department, as the threatening anonymous letter demanded.

“We believe it was retaliation. The letter said if he didn’t resign from the fire company, he’d regret it,” she said.

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