Huge Ohio Fire Sparks War of Words

DAYTON, Ohio --

A massive fire in Dayton's Five Oaks neighborhood early Sunday morning has sparked a war of words between fire union officials and city leaders.

The fire broke out sometime before five thirty Sunday morning at the intersection of Five Oaks and Bellevue.

Fire investigators said the fires appeared to be suspicious, as they spread between five different vacant houses in the area.

With several different scenes, fire officials used every resource available.

Dayton Fire Captain Tim Rose said, "We had to call crews in from outlying areas with mutual aid to man our fire houses, just about everything in city was used here."

The strain on crews and equipment led the Dayton Firefighters Union Local 136 to release a statement Sunday afternoon criticizing recent budget cuts; cuts union officials said are putting the public at risk.

Brad French said, "If there would have been another fire or significant car crash, something along those lines at the same time [as the fire], we don't have the ability to respond to multiple major emergencies at same time due to the cuts that have happened."

French said budget cuts over the past few years have left four different fire engines sitting parked and silent.

French said, "The union is concerned about all apparatus cuts that have happened across the city, but in particular to the Five Oaks neighborhood."

Five Oaks residents said the area seems to be a favorite target for arsonists, due to the overabundance of vacant and foreclosed homes that line the streets.

Resident Michael Foster questioned city leaders' decision to cut essential services. Foster said, "We're talking about people's lives you know, and it sounds like they're basing it more money than on saving people's lives."

But city leaders said residents have no reason to worry, and say the union's fears amount to nothing more than grandstanding before upcoming union negotiations with the city.

City Commissioner Dean Lovelace said, "We'd love to have all the fire houses open and have all types of apparatus, but the reality is, we're in a budget crunch."

Copyright 2010 by . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.