Two fires in the city that started within about 10 minutes of each other and less than a half-mile apart are being considered suspicious.
Two vacant buildings in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood — 1341-1343 6th Ave. and 1102 3rd Ave. — were demolished Thursday after both were destroyed by fires that broke out at 12:26 a.m. and 12:39 a.m., respectively.
The cause of the fires has not yet been determined, said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Gillespie. But they are considered suspicious because both started on the exterior of the buildings, he said.
“We have had cases where this has happened before with fires close together,” he said. “Certainly when it happens it heightens your suspicion. This is not something you see a lot.”
Schenectady firefighters first responded to the fire on 6th Avenue. When the second fire was reported 13 minutes later, one piece of apparatus that was not on that call went to 3rd Avenue, along with one already at 6th Avenue.
With city firefighters stretched thin between the two fires, Deputy Chief Don Mareno called for mutual aid from Niskayuna and Scotia.
The blaze on 6th Avenue was deemed under control around 4:06 a.m., Gillespie said. The fire on 3rd Avenue engulfed the building until about 6 a.m. Both buildings were gutted and demolished Thursday.
“They were both vacant and they were both boarded-up and secured,” he said. “The demolition crews are expected to have both buildings on the ground by the end of the day [Thursday].”
According to city property records, 1341-1343 6th Ave. was a two-family home assessed at $54,900.
The second building, at 1102 3rd Ave., was also a two-family residence with a total assessment of $68,700.
One of the properties was city-owned and was on the demolition list, according to Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico. The other property was still owned by the property owner. Falotico said the city is obligated to legally pursue the owner if he or she does not pick up the demolition bill.
Gillespie said the fires are currently under investigation. The collection of physical evidence was wrapped up Thursday morning and photos were taken at both scenes, he said.
Now investigators are going door to door and interviewing area residents.
“We will be able to determine suspicious activity from the interviews,” Gillespie said. “We know the two people who called 911 for the fires, and people nearby who witnessed the fires.”