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UPDATE: Suspicious fire investigated at Gazette building

UPDATE: Suspicious fire investigated at Gazette building

The investigation is continuing into a fire at The Daily Gazette early Sunday that apparently was de
UPDATE: Suspicious fire investigated at Gazette building
A Schenectady firefighter pours water on one of three fires in the press and mail room area at the Daily Gazette on Maxon Road Extension early this morning.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

The investigation is continuing into a fire at The Daily Gazette early Sunday that apparently was deliberately set in three locations on the building’s first floor.

The fire was reported at The Gazette building on Maxon Road Extension shortly before 6 a.m., according to Assistant Chief Mike Gillespie, and is being labeled as suspicious by investigators.

There were multiple fires in the Gazette’s mail room and press room, Fire Chief Ray Senecal said. The fires were under control in about 20 minutes, he said.

Heavy smoke spread through the building but heat and water damage was minimal.

It appears three separate fires were set inside the building: Uniforms hanging on a wall, a bin filled with towels and mop heads, and a large stack of newspapers, all in separate locations, were ignited.

There was electrical damage along with damage to the press room, according to Daily Gazette Publisher John DeAugustine.

DeAugustine said the fires would not affect The Gazette’s operations and today’s newspaper would be printed at another location if necessary — the Times Union had offered to print The Gazette if needed.

“I’m certainly concerned that somebody would set a fire at The Daily Gazette,” he said. “The team here has already reacted to it and we’ll clean it up. We will be back up and running on Monday. Police and fire are aggressively pursuing the investigation and I feel very confident that they will figure out who did this and they will take appropriate action.”

Sunday’s paper had been printed and was on its way to readers when the flames were reported.

Tony Tomaro, a Gazette district manager, said he was the only person that he is aware of in the building at the time of the fire.

Tomaro said he was in the depot office when the lights suddenly went out in the mail room. That’s when he saw the fire there.

He said he pulled the fire alarm and called 911. He tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher, but it flared up again.

The dispatcher on the phone advised Tomaro to exit the building. While leaving, he saw a second fire in the press area and then the third.

He said firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after he got outside. There were no reported injuries.

Tomaro said someone from the depot is usually working from 2 to 8 a.m. but is not necessarily in the building at all times.

An investigator with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was on the scene later that morning, along with Schenectady fire and police officials.

The investigation was continuing Sunday and there were no suspects.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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