Fire Department Pushed to Brink by Rowdy Celebration

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Updated: 4/06/2012 6:21 pm
One UK student is behind bars, charged with arson, as investigators try to identify more suspects.  Meanwhile, fire officials say the mayhem of the Final Four celebrations in Lexington pushed the city’s fire department to the brink.
Daebrion Hopwood, 19, a UK freshman from Elizabethtown has been charged with second degree arson, a felony, for his alleged involvement in a car fire on State Street after last Saturday’s win over arch-rival Louisville.
Investigators also released pictures of two other suspects in the car fire.  To see those images go to this web site:
There were 120 fires set between Saturday and Monday according to Lexington Battalion Chief Ed Davis.  Investigators are most concerned with the car fire and two garage fires, all on State Street, the epicenter of post game troubles.
Davis says the fires around the UK campus stretched the department thin, the worst period occurring for about a half hour after Monday night’s championship win over Kansas. 
"At one point in time there was no one single fire station in the city of Lexington that had a unit left inside of it,” Davis said Friday.
Lexington has 23 fire stations.  Davis says all on duty units were out of the stations.  That includes 22 engines, 12 ambulances, seven ladder trucks and the department’s heavy duty rescue truck.
"We were very close to being to our tipping point,” Davis said.
"Had we had a structure fire somewhere in Lexington at some body's home that was unrelated or at a business, we would have been in trouble, we would have been in serious trouble."
"Kids are going to be kids but you would have thought they would have been a little bit more cautious,” added Matt Howard, a fire investigator.
“That’s basically a bomb,” Davis said of the car a group set on fire Saturday night
“You can't just set something on fire that has an accelerant in it like that in the middle of a crowd. It's just completely unsafe and we will appropriately prosecute anything like that,” Davis explained.
The arson investigation is being conducted by the UK Police Department and the city’s fire department.  Social media has been a tool for detectives in their probe. 
 "You see a lot of individuals who like to brag about stuff and that's why we're able to start tracking things and make some connections,” said Joe Monroe, UK Police Chief.

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