City Police arrested a Rensselaer contractor on grand larceny charges after he allegedly touched off a massive fire at the Central Warehouse building while he and three workers were unlawfully removing metal piping from the structure.
George Ellis, 35, was charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree criminal mischief in City Court Wednesday. He was ordered held without bail and remanded to the Albany County Jail.
Albany Police Spokesman James Miller said investigators determined Ellis was inside the 11-story building with workers who were using a saw to remove the piping when excessive sparking touched off a fire inside the structure’s cork insulation. Ellis was under contract to salvage piping, but the agreement expired sometime in June.
Miller declined to discuss how investigators linked Ellis to the fire or whether the contractor knew he had touched off the blaze that burned for more than three days. But he said the multi-jurisdictional probe into the fire almost immediately placed him inside the barren hulk of a structure sometime before the fire was reported early Friday evening on Oct. 22.
“We were able to determine pretty quickly that he was in there with his employees,” he said.
Between the time his agreement with building owner CR Montgomery LLC. expired and the fire, Ellis allegedly removed more than 200,000 pounds of pipe valued at about $26,000. The metal was taken to Kelman’s Scrap Yard in Cohoes where it was sold, according to police.
Miller said the fire didn’t appear to be intentional and no arson charges appear to be forthcoming. However, he said the investigation is ongoing.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County