Updated 05/22/2012 01:58 PM
Another suspicious fire rips through building in Schenectady
There's been four recent fires in Schenectady and officials are saying they're not accidents. As our Megan Cruz reports, this recent string of suspicious fires is tied to Schenectady's vacant housing problem.
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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Fire investigators survey the scene at 28 Kelton Street Tuesday morning, where on Monday night, they say someone set the abandoned house on fire intentionally.
"There is no mechanical devices in there that would be a factor. The power's been cut to the building, the gas is shut off, the building is not occupied," said Deputy Chief Michael Gillespie, a fire investigator with the Schenectady Fire Department. "Typically when we see those things, we start to take those things into consideration as out of the ordinary for an accidental fire."
Gillespie said it's the city's fourth suspicious fire in just eight days. The first was Sunday, May 13th at 812 Emmett Street. The next two were this past Sunday night, at 133 Elder Street and 1205 State Street, followed by one on Monday night on Kelton.
"We take notice to this and start looking to see if there's a link to these fires," said Gillespie.
As of now, he said the four are unrelated, but they do have similarities, like that three of the four buildings were unoccupied.
Gillespie said, "Sometimes it's just to squat and have a place to stay that's warm; other times, it's to steal things like the copper pipes from the building."
Gillespie said it's also sometimes kids looking for a playground, like the four teens implicated by officials in the Emmett Street fire.
"Curiosity, carelessness with matches, or cigarettes, or smoking," he said.
Officials said these fires speak to a smaller Schenectady.
"The structural inventory in Schenectady still resembles when we had a population of 100,000 people," said Building Inspector Eric Shilling. "Now we only have 60,000."
Gillespie said there's only so much prevention they could do.
"We just monitor those as closely as we can to make sure they're boarded up," he said.
Shilling said once the fire department is completed with their investigation on Kelton Street, the house will be torn down. He said it's the 10th vacant building in just the last couple months to be demolished because it was destroyed in a fire.