UPDATE: $25,000 reward for information leading to arrest in Pate - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

UPDATE: $25,000 reward for information leading to arrest in Pater Ave. arson fire

Patrick Wolterman, provided by the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters Patrick Wolterman, provided by the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters
The Pater Avenue home on the morning of Dec. 28. (FOX19 NOW) The Pater Avenue home on the morning of Dec. 28. (FOX19 NOW)
HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) -

Arson is to blame for the fire that claimed the life of a Hamilton firefighter on December 28, 2015, according to city officials. 

As a result, the death of Patrick Wolterman is now being handled as a homicide investigation. The announcement came exactly one week after Wolterman fell through the floor of the burning Pater Avenue home.

A $10,000 reward was initially offered for information leading to the identification and conviction of those responsible for setting the fire by Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit. That reward was increased to $25,000 on Tuesday. 

Bucheit declined to say what led investigators to rule arson as the cause.

An entire task force is devoted to finding the suspected arsonist, officials say. The State Fire Marshal's Office, Crime Stoppers and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are part of that task force led by Hamilton Police. 

Officials said people have already received called in multiple tips and leads in the case. 

A tripped burglar alarm first led police to the Pater Avenue home in the early morning hours of Dec. 28, officials said last week. Fire crews were called shortly after for heavy smoke exiting three sides of the home.

Crews initially believed someone was trapped inside the burning home, but the house turned out to be empty, officials said. The homeowners had left one day earlier for vacation in Las Vegas.

"Patrick breached the front door and entered the burning structure, never questioning that he was serving the citizens, that he was making a difference," said Hamilton Fire Chief Steve Dawson, during his Dec. 31 eulogy.

The 28-year-old fell through the first floor into the basement. He was transferred to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. 

The minimum $10,000 reward is being offered by Crime Stoppers and the Ohio Blue Ribbon Arson Committee. 

Anyone with information regarding the fire or events resulting from the fire should to call Crimestoppers at 513-352-3040 or Hamilton Detectives at 513-868-5811ext. 2002.

He was recently married and graduated from Roger Bacon High School in 2005.

Wolterman had obtained his position as a full-time firefighter with the city of Hamilton within the past year.

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