An arson fire. "Kill" on a wall. A missing bannister. Two hurt firefighters.
The North Las Vegas Fire Department believed it had walked into a trap.
But after a day of investigation, North Las Vegas police on Tuesday announced they had all but ruled out a nefarious motive behind the Saturday afternoon blaze at 3411 Strawberry Roan Road, near Decatur Boulevard and Cheyenne Avenue.
"We are no longer considering this an attempted murder or an attempt to hurt firefighters," Sgt. Tim Bedwell said.
In a news release sent Saturday evening, fire Capt. Cedric Williams said fire investigators determined the blaze had been set on purpose to hurt responding firefighters. The Fire Department would not release any details of the incident, however, including why it believed the fire was meant to hurt firefighters.
Williams said Tuesday afternoon he had not heard of the police findings and had no comment.
"I'm not going to get into 'he said, she said.' They're handling all media," he said, referring questions to police.
Firefighters went to the two-story house about 4 p.m. because of smoke showing outside. Two firefighters went inside the dark, smoke-filled home and were headed upstairs to the flames when they fell from the staircase with a missing bannister, Bedwell said.
Both firefighters were treated at University Medical Center and returned to work that night, he said.
Police joined the investigation Monday because of a potential crime against a person, Bedwell said.
Investigators found that the home had been vacant for many months, perhaps as long as a year. It served as a party house for youths, who probably caused the extensive damage in the house and left graffiti, including the word "kill," he said.
"This is activity, for whatever reason, they seem to find fun," he said.
Like many vacant homes in Southern Nevada, the house had been stripped of anything of value, including the bannister, he said.
Bedwell reminded neighbors to call police if they see parties or other suspicious activity in a vacant home. Police will investigate, and the city can board up the home to keep people out, he said.
Contact reporter Brian Haynes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0281.