A 73-year-old man who four police officers risked their lives to save from a fire in New Hampshire early Monday morning is now believed to have set the blaze, officials said.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Gerald Gutekunst charging him with one count of Class A felony arson and one count of attempted murder in connection with the fire on Route 111 in Hudson, police announced Tuesday. Additional charges are expected.
Gutekunst is not currently in custody, but police said they know where he is and expect to arrest him this week. He has no prior criminal record.
Police said Gutekunst was renting an apartment in the multi-family building where the fire was set.
The flames broke out around 2 a.m. Monday. The subsequent investigation brought in authorities from state and local agencies. Investigators in hazmat gear spent hours going in and out of the burned-out, second-floor apartment.
An officer on her way to work early Monday morning was first to see the flames shooting from a window of the home.
"You could see the flames actually swirling," said Hudson police officer Colby Morton.
She called 911, and three of her fellow officers were seconds away. They couldn't open the door, so they smashed a window to get inside.
Officer Rob McNally was the first to enter.
"Immediately, he was faced with heavy smoke," Hudson Police Chief Bill Avery said Monday. "He got down low on the floor, he could see a little, and he saw a gentleman laying on the floor."
With the help of his colleagues, McNally pulled the man out of the building and into an ambulance.
Firefighters were just five minutes behind the officers, but Avery said those minutes could have meant life or death for the man.
"There was no hesitation on any of their parts," he said. "I think if you hesitated, it probably would've been a tragic ending."
The officers said the rescue is something they would not have thought twice about.
"That's just what we do. There was no plan, it was just to make sure everyone was safe and we just acted on what we had before us," said Hudson officer Dan Donahue.