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Yorktown firefighter stabbed while trying to douse blaze

By Sara Sneath , SARA PRIEST
Aug. 20, 2014 at 2:21 p.m.


A firefighter was stabbed Tuesday night while attempting to put out a fire in front of a Yorktown home.

The fire department responded to a report of a truck on fire about 8:50 p.m. Tuesday, said Yorktown Police Chief Paul Campos. But when firefighters arrived, they discovered a man burning brush, a couch and a city-issued trash bin in front of his home in the 400 block of West Sixth Street.

As firefighters prepared to douse the flames, the man - Kirk Engle, 35 - began yelling for them to stop, Campos said. Officials told Engle he was not allowed to burn in the city limits.

As the firefighters spoke, Engle lunged at one of the men, Campos said.

The firefighter, Brian Smolik, thought he had been punched in the stomach. But two other firefighters saw a knife in Engle's hand as he pulled away from Smolik.

Smolik, who has been with the department for two or three years, suffered a 2-inch stab to his lower abdomen.

"Luckily, it didn't hit any vital organs, but it did give him a 2-inch gash," Campos said.

Smolik was at a hospital Wednesday evening.

After Smolik was stabbed, another firefighter grabbed Smolik and dragged him behind a fire truck for protection. A third firefighter attempted to speak with Engle, who lunged again, missing that third firefighter, Campos said.

The fire department called for Emergency Medical Services and the Yorktown Police Department.

Engle then left the scene, Campos said.

Police officer Josh Serbin and Campos responded to the stabbing.

The man was found in the 600 block of Kraege Street. Serbin arrived first at the scene as Engle attempted to enter a residence. Serbin got out of his vehicle and, with his gun aimed at Engle, told the suspect to get away from the house and get down on the ground.

"We didn't know if he still had the knife on him or if he was going to try to stab us also," Campos said.

Engle was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault on a public servant and taken to DeWitt County Jail.

While under arrest, the man told Campos that the fire was an attempt to get the police chief to respond.

"He intentionally set fire to all that stuff and was expecting to stab me with a knife, so he could go back to prison," Campos said.

The man told Campos that his caseworker would not listen when he said he wanted to return to prison.

"Maybe now they'll listen to me," Campos quoted Engle saying after being arrested.

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