LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – Firefighters discovered a man trying to ignite more fires as they were dousing flames he had already started inside a business Saturday night.
“This was a first for us” says Longmont Chief of Fire Jerrod Vanlandingham. “You don’t typically expect to encounter an arsonist lighting fires at the time you are trying to extinguish them.”
That man now sits in the Boulder County Jail facing felony arson and burglary charges.
“Our crews had little choice but to tackle the suspect, subdue him and drag him out of the building to awaiting police officers,” Vanlandingham continued. “These firefighters went above and beyond their call of duty by taking these actions, but most likely saved lives and property in doing so.”
Longmont Fire was notified by alarm of possible fire activity at Budget Home Supply, a locally owned home improvement warehouse at 780 Boston Avenue. Crews found heavy smoke and multiple fires inside the facility — and Michael Schrodt, 54, allegedly trying to light more fires.
Three firefighters in full bunker gear — Lt. Michael Burelson, Lt. Micah Holmes, and firefighter Jared Hurley — demanded Schrodt cease his activity, then dragged him out of the building and into the arms of police when he didn’t.
Officers described smelling lighter fluid while placing him under arrest, according to the arrest report provided by the Longmont Police Department.
“Michael stated he knew the building would blow up because he blew things up for a living in the Army,” states the officer in the arrest report. “Michael continued to state how if we didn’t leave immediately, we were all going to die, and how we needed to get all of the firefighters out of the building so they didn’t die.”
Police relayed that information to fire personnel, but no explosions were reported. Nor did any injuries occur.
During Schrodt’s evaluation at a hospital, his shirt was determined to be soaked in an accelerant.
The police report quotes fire investigators theorizing Schrodt broke in by throwing a large concrete tray into a glass window.
The business’s manager, according to the police report, estimated total damage to the store at more than $500,000.
A search of online court records shows Schrodt has a lengthy record of arrests. The charges include felonies for Trespassing, Burglary, Theft, Motor Vehicle Theft, and Drug Possession, starting in 1983.