A 15-year-old boy is in the custody of the Washington County Probation Department after police say he burglarized several homes and burned another down to conceal his crimes. Matt Hunter reports.
FORT EDWARD, N.Y. -- Last Monday’s morning’s fire at 5 McKie Street in Fort Edward burned hot enough to leave behind only a small amount of evidence.
“I walked outside and could see the whole building was engulfed," said Greg Savage, who lives next door.
“It was fully involved when I first got there, pushing out every window and every door,” Fort Edward Fire Department Chief Matthew Hurlburt said.
Even so, there was enough of a trail to lead investigators to believe the cause was suspicious.
“A request was made for the New York State fire canine to come to the scene, at which point the dog indicated an accelerant in the front room at the home,” said Justin Derway, chief of the Fort Edward Fire Department.
According to Derway, his officers had already been investigating several home burglaries in the area and quickly determined they were linked to the fire. With several suspects already developed, police were quickly able to arrest a 15-year-old male.
“We had been working on these cases for some time and we had developed a list of people that had been involved,” Derway said during a Monday morning press conference at the fire department.
The teen, whose identity is being protected due to his age, has been charged with burglary, arson, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. Investigators believe he had stored items stolen from other homes inside the McKie Street house.
“The motivation for this fire at this point was determined to be that they were trying to cover up evidence from this previous burglaries,” Derway said.
Derway says the owner of the house, who lived there alone, was not home at the time of the fire, but is acquainted with the teenage suspect. Neighbors say the owner frequently allowed young people to hang out there.
“The indication was [the homeowner] had a pool table and a ping-pong table,” Derway said.
“While I always questioned all of the kids in and out, I would have never thought there’d be arson or thefts,” Savage said.
With no one home at the time, no one was injured. Police do not believe the 15-year-old has been involved with any other fires in the region.
“I just hope it’s the end," Savage said. "I am happy to hear it is not somebody who has a fetish with starting fires.”
The 15-year-old remains in the custody of the Washington County Probation Department, which will determine what happens next in the legal process.