Police help put out fire after firefighters ambushed in Springfield

Eugene Springfield Fire Chief Joe Zaludek said he’s thankful none of the firefighters or police officers on scene were hurt.

Posted: Oct 17, 2018 7:42 PM
Updated: Oct 17, 2018 7:46 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Crews from Eugene Springfield fire are shaken up after shots were fired at firefighters on scene of a house fire early Wednesday morning.

RELATED: Police identify subject in early morning shooting, fire

Eugene Springfield Fire was called to a house fire at 536 Oakdale Avenue at about 3:54 a.m. Officials said when first responders arrived on scene, they came under gunfire from a shooter who was walking through the area with a rifle. 

The gunman was later identified as Lance Jacobs, 65, who ultimately shot and killed himself.

Bullets struck the windshield and front of the fire engine. Fire personnel took cover and requested police assistance.

“The last thing you’re expecting when you roll in is to come under fire like that,” said Springfield Police Lt. Scott Mckee.

Springfield police arrived on scene by 4:02 a.m.

A SWAT team and detectives were also called as the suspect continued to fire at responding officers.

Fire personnel then fought the house fire. Four residences caught fire: a duplex at 536 and 542 Oakdale Ave. and two single-family residences at 518 and 530 Oakdale Ave.

In the photo below, you can see five spots where gunshots pierced the windshield.

      

In Seattle, firefighters recently added bulletproof vests to their equipment to protect them from similar incidents.

KEZI asked Eugene Springfield Fire Chief Joe Zaludek if they plan on adding bullet proof vests and he said it’s not a plan right now.

"We have had bullet proof vest for some assignments that include special duty, but at this time, we do not,” Zaludek said. “We believe our best safety is using our powers of observation and our training like they did today to fall back.”

Fire officials said after crews ran to safety, police who were on the scene picked up a hose and started fighting the fire.

Zaludek said he’s aware of similar ambush situations happening across the country, but after seeing It happen in Springfield, he’s concerned.

He said the next step is to look at industry standards to make sure this doesn’t happen again. He also said coordination with law enforcement is key.

"We are in harm’s way on occasion, but we have very good coordination with law enforcement and they're there to support us,” he said. “Our training is to observe and to identify something that doesn't seem right at the scene and to work as a team and have an officer provide leadership to give direction and direct the crew in a safe manner."

Zaludek said he’s never seen police step in and help fight a fire, but said he’s grateful they did.

He said he’s thankful none of the firefighters or police officers on scene were hurt.

"We're concerned for each other's wellbeing. They were very thankful,”Zaludek said. “We had the chance to visit with them at the station today and we are going to continue to work on their well-being and that's really our priority is the recovery and well-being of not only their families, but the entire department who experienced this and the stress that went on from their attack."

Police believe Jacobs set fire to his own home to ambush first responders.

It’s unclear who placed the 911 call, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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