‘Waco’: Who Started the Fire? David Thibodeau Still Disagrees With the FBI Negotiator, Gary Noesner
The miniseries, Waco, — about the 51-day siege and fire at Mount Carmel — moved to Netflix on April 16, 2020, but it originally premiered on Paramount Network Jan. 24, 2018. The miniseries is gaining popularity on Netflix. Viewers, who watch the series want to know who started the Waco fire that ended the stalemate? Was it the Branch Davidians or the government tactical agents?
What is the miniseries ‘Waco’ about on Netflix?
David Thibodeau points out that Waco is a dramatization of the 51-day standoff that occurred in 1993 in Waco, Texas. Thibodeau was a consultant on the series but would love for Netflix to create a documentary that could go into more accurate details of what happened.
The six-episode miniseries begins with background information on the Branch Davidians — a religious group that many call a cult — led by David Koresh (Taylor Kitsch). The faithful members lived together at their Mount Carmel Center in Waco, learning scripture through long Bible studies conducted by Koresh.
When the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives discovers that a shipment of guns is heading to the center, they attempt to serve a warrant with full tactical gear and guns ready. A journalist accidentally tips off the mailman to the raid so that the Davidians can grab their weapons.
The two-hour raid ends with four dead ATF agents and six dead Branch Davidians. Then, Gary Noesner (Michael Shannon) is brought in as the head negotiator for the FBI to talk Koresh into coming out and releasing his hostages.
In the series, the FBI negotiator talks Koresh into releasing 21 children; however, Noesner is taken off of the case after 50 days of attempted negotiations. The standoff finally ends when a tactical team sends tear gas into the building on day 51. The Branch Davidians believe the tear gas started the fire, while the FBI believe the Davidians did it. The remaining 76 people who did not get out of the fire, died, including 25 children trapped inside.
‘Waco’: Who started the fire that ended the 51-day siege?
“The FBI denied using incendiary devices that could have ignited a fire,” the Netflix series reads at the end of episode 6. “They claimed the Branch Davidians intentionally started the fire in an apparent mass suicide.”
Both Gary Noesner and David Thibodeau — who was inside the building at the time of the fire — appeared on Today with Megyn Kelly on Jan. 22, 2018, to share their side of the story.
“I don’t believe that any of the people inside set the fire,” Thibodeau told Kelly. “I know that most people think that from the tapes. Two things — number one — I didn’t see anyone set a fire. Nobody that I know told me that they set a fire.”
Thibodeau wrote one of the two books that Waco is based on — A Place Called Waco: A Survivor’s Story. The FBI negotiator wrote the other one — Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator.
“The second thing — to me, the most important thing — is those tapes I question,” continued Thibodeau. “Those tapes were taken at 6 a.m. the FBI claims — 6 hours before the fire actually began. They said they had to take them back to their studio to scrub their tapes to find out what the tapes actually said. I have always questioned that because of what I have witnessed and experienced, I just don’t believe that.”
FBI Negotiator, Gary Noesner believes the Branch Davidians started the fire
“Because of all of these different perspectives and different ideas about what happened, seven years later, they had the Danforth Commission,” Noesner explained.
He went on to say that the FBI secured 11 microphones that had words like “get the fuel,” and “be ready to start the fires,” that were inside at the time of the blaze. That is why the FBI negotiator believes the Davidians intentionally started the fire.
“The report also acknowledged that the FBI had used incendiary flash-bang grenades in the assault,” concludes the miniseries. “Surviving Branch Davidians maintain that there was never a plan for mass suicide.”
To this day, there is still controversy over who began the fire at Mount Carmel in Waco.