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June Schenectady fire that injured two ruled arson; Suspect found dead, fire department says

June Schenectady fire that injured two ruled arson; Suspect found dead, fire department says

Suspect found dead, fire department says
June Schenectady fire that injured two ruled arson; Suspect found dead, fire department says
Firefighters with one of the two victims of the June 22 fire
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER

SCHENECTADY -- A June fire that injured two women has been ruled arson and the suspect has since been found dead, fire officials said Wednesday.

The fire happened on June 22 at 1321 Third Ave. Firefighters responded and found the two women outside the building suffering from burns.

The women were treated at the scene by Schenectady Fire Department paramedics and taken to Albany Medical Center. 

Assistant Fire Chief Don Mareno said both have since been released.  

Members of the Schenectady Arson Task Force, using an accelerant-detecting dog, determined that the fire had been intentionally set.

The investigation and interviews with witnesses led investigators to a suspect. But on June 25, three days after the fire, the suspect was found dead in Rotterdam, Mareno said. 

Authorities are withholding the suspect’s name because they’re unclear if next-of-kin have been notified, Mareno said.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said the arson stemmed from a landlord-tenant dispute and believed the suspect, the former tenant, no longer resided at the location at the time of the fire.

"The autopsy results indicate it was natural causes pending toxicology results," Carney said.

The fire was among two dozen fires the department has responded to since mid-May, including nuisance fires, car fires and building fires, officials said. 

The numbers are up considerably over the same time period last year, when officials responded to just four fires. 

Of the 24 fires, Mareno said, five were car-related, none of them connected.

And most incidents are unrelated aside from a string of nuisance fires along Crane Street, which netted one arrest. 

Six arrests have been made in total, including two juveniles who face charges in connection to a box delivery truck fire on Lang Street Monday that investigators deemed suspicious. 

A 15-year-old was issued an appearance ticket, and a 16-year-old arraigned on Wednesday morning and released with a return date.

More arrests could come, Mareno said.

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