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Man attacks firefighters as his home burns

ZEPHYRHILLS — Flames shot from his home as sheriff's deputies wrestled Charles Allen Wares to the ground and handcuffed him Monday evening.

The charge: assaulting the firefighters who were trying to put out the fire.

Wares' dogs were trapped inside, according to Pasco Fire Rescue. But instead of helping firefighters, Wares is accused of menacing them.

"I guess the guy just couldn't follow directions," said Pasco Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Mike Ciccarello, "and ended up getting himself in more trouble than he needed to be in."

Wares may have been agitated that the first firefighters to arrive on scene weren't equipped to put out the fire, Ciccarello said. The call came in about 5:30 p.m. The first to arrive at 37101 State Road 54 was a county battalion chief who was nearby.

The home was already in flames, according to a Pasco sheriff's report that details what happened next:

Wares demanded the chief go into the house or he would go into the flames himself. Wares "cursed" a Zephyrhills Fire Rescue engine crew as they donned firefighting gear and told the firefighters they were "slow."

The chief tried to get Wares to leave the property and stop interfering with the firefighters. Wares responded by throwing a large metal flashlight at two firefighters, the report said, but missed.

Firefighters told Wares to go across the street and calm down. He responded by grabbing an axe and "swinging that thing around," Ciccarello said.

"What really scared me was when he picked up the axe," Zephyrhills Fire Captain Ralph Velez later told deputies, according to the report.

When deputies arrived, the report said, an agitated Wares challenged firefighters to a fight and yelled obscenities. He also called them "cowards."

Then, Wares tried to approach the firefighters "in an aggressive manner," the report said, so deputies took him to the ground and handcuffed him.

Wares, 34, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of assaulting firefighters and resisting arrest without violence. He later apologized to deputies and said he "never meant to hurt anyone."

Pasco Fire Rescue said several dogs were saved from the fire, but two died. The Red Cross was alerted that two adult women and two children at the home needed aid. The preliminary cause of the fire may be a 4-year-old playing with matches or a lighter, according to Ciccarello. The home is likely a total loss.

Wares was in the Pasco County jail on Tuesday, held in lieu of $500 bail.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6236.

Man attacks firefighters as his home burns 07/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 10, 2008 8:35pm]
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