Schenectady County

Federal charges filed in 2009 Schenectady fire

The investigation into a 2009 residential fire on Broadway has resulted in a federal arson indictmen

The investigation into a 2009 residential fire on Broadway has resulted in a federal arson indictment.

Kendo George, 26, of Schenectady, was arrested Wednesday on federal charges, city fire Capt. Doug Faulisi said. George is accused of intentionally setting the fire at 1520-1522 Broadway on Sept. 28, 2009, according to the indictment.

In all, 11 adults and three children lived in the building and two neighboring buildings, officials have said. No residents were hurt in the fire, though a firefighter suffered minor burns, Faulisi said.

Authorities declined to detail the investigation, including how they believe the blaze was set, but Faulisi did say that George’s girlfriend lived in the building. They think that the fire was set as part of a domestic dispute.

If convicted, George faces up to 20 years in federal prison, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Moreno said.

The blaze itself led to the shutdown of Broadway for that morning’s commute.

Several pets were inside, and at least one was rescued. A cat, with half its fur singed off, was taken from a second-floor window to safety by a firefighter on a ladder.

Firefighters responded to the scene around 3:30 a.m. for a report of smoke. Shortly after they arrived, the smoke turned into flames, with heat and fire damaging neighboring apartment houses at 1516-1518 and 1524-1526 Broadway.

Helping with the investigation into the fire was a task force of members of the city Police Department, federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and a relatively new fire investigation unit within the city Fire Department, Faulisi said. They also worked with the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

The city fire investigation unit now has three members — Faulisi, fire investigator Jim Penn and deputy chief Scott Doherty. The unit, begun around the time of the Broadway fire, helps give added attention to fire investigations, Faulisi said.

The Broadway fire was one of the first cases given to the unit. Faulisi credited city police investigators with getting good leads in the case. Faulisi also made contacts with the ATF, getting federal prosecutors interested in the case.

Because the fire was at a rental property, that allowed for federal prosecution, officials said.

The fire investigation unit and task force are currently working on other unrelated cases, with more arrests expected soon, he said.

“Basically, the point we’re trying to make is if you start a fire in Schenectady, we’re going to investigate it and come after you,” Faulisi said.

Among the fires being investigated is the July 16 fire at 1671 Crane St., which damaged three apartments and two businesses. The fire displaced five residents and destroyed a flea market and prosthetics business.

Faulisi said Wednesday that investigators have reason to believe that fire was intentionally set. A $500 reward has been posted for the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in starting the blaze.

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