Man accused of trying to set woman on fire

Victim escaped unharmed
Scene at 53 N. Jay St. just after 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
Scene at 53 N. Jay St. just after 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

A city man intentionally tried to set his wife on fire early Saturday, the second man in a week to be accused of doing so, authorities said.

In this case, the woman escaped unharmed, officials said. A downtown building, however, suffered damage and residents had to be evacuated from the building’s roof.


Michael J. Harris, Sr., 46, of Barrett Street, faces arson, attempted assault and reckless endangerment counts, all felonies. If convicted of the most serious count he would face up to 25 years in state prison.

He is accused of setting fire to 53 N. Jay St. just after 5:30 a.m. Saturday by pouring an unknown type of fuel on the stairwell and floors and lighting it on fire, according to papers filed in court. He allegedly set the fire in a dispute with his wife.

Harris is also accused of attempting to douse his wife with an unknown accelerant and light her on fire. The woman, who did not live at that address, was not injured, prosecutor Michael DeMatteo said. Police arrested Harris shortly afterward at his Barrett Street residence.

Several tenants were home at the time of the fire and some were forced to go onto the roof to be rescued by the Fire Department.


The fire attack came about four hours after Harris accosted his wife at The Saw Mill tavern on South Avenue, grabbing her by the arm and shoulder in an attempt to remove her from the location, according to papers. The woman suffered bruising, scratches and pain.

Harris was being held Monday at the Schenectady County Jail on $50,000 bail.

The incident came almost one week to the hour after police say Antonio Bargallo, 69, doused his wife Elizabeth Gonzalez, 48, with gasoline and set her on fire. Gonzalez died of her injuries and services were held for her Saturday. Bargallo remains in custody on murder and other charges.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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