Man of mystery

We have no idea what was going through the mind of 73-year-old Hudson resident Gerald Gutekunst when he allegedly started a fire early Monday morning. However, the situation that unfolded demonstrates how the already difficult jobs of police officers and firefighters can be even more of a challenge because of events they simply cannot anticipate.

Original reports this week were that police rescued a man, later identified as Gutekunst, from a burning apartment building in Hudson in the early morning hours of Monday. Police officer Rob McNally said to perform the rescue, he dropped to the floor and crawled along until he spotted an arm and a hand.

“I picked him up … these guys helped me, held onto my belt … and we were able to get out,” McNally said during a Tuesday news conference, gesturing toward fellow officers Alec Golner and Dan Donahue.

By the time of that Tuesday press gathering, authorities had come to the belief that Gutekunst had actually intentionally set the blaze that nearly claimed his life. As he recovers from his injuries in the hospital, authorities are planning to charge him with the felony offenses of arson and attempted murder.

Danielle Cole, a district chief for the Office of the New Hampshire Fire Marshal, said investigators called in a bomb squad around midday Monday to check the building.

“There were indications when personnel were inside that there could be a threat to other individuals coming into the building,” Cole said.

Again, we can only speculate as to Gutekunst’s alleged actions and intentions. We do, however, commend the officers who risked their own safety to rescue him from the burning structure.

Police officers and firefighters face jobs that are already tremendously dangerous and difficult. They certainly should not have to deal with an incident of someone (allegedly) starting a fire in a building while still inside the structure.