FORT EDWARD — Police have arrested a 15-year-old in connection with last week’s house fire in the village, and they believe he also committed numerous home burglaries before the fire.
Fort Edward Police Chief Justin Derway said the teen is believed to have intentionally started the fire at 5 McKie St. using an accelerant, to cover up his involvement in the burglaries at that home and others.
Police said the teen lives in the village of Fort Edward and was acquainted with the homeowner, and had been part of a group of young people who hung out there occasionally.
The teen, whose name was not released because he is considered a juvenile, was charged with felony counts of arson, burglary, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, Derway said. Additional charges are likely, as police recovered numerous items stolen from other homes that the teen allegedly burglarized, according to police.
He was turned over Monday to the Washington County Probation Department, which will determine whether he should be released and whether he will be prosecuted in Washington County Family Court. Juvenile offenders are sometimes put on probation in lieu of prosecution.
The early-morning Nov. 27 fire destroyed the two-story home. No one was hurt, but the owner was left homeless. He had been staying with relatives at the time.
Police and local fire investigators determined the fire started just inside the front door. Derway said a trained dog from the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control detected an unspecified accelerant.
The owner of the home, Shane Morehouse, did not have insurance, police said. He told police he wanted to try to salvage the home, but Derway said it did not appear salvageable.
Derway praised the cooperation between his agency, the fire departments and investigators and officers from the State Police, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Hudson Falls Police.
Keeping the fire from spreading to the village highway garage feet away was a task, he said. Fort Edward Fire Chief Matt Hurlburt said firefighters sprayed down the garage to keep flames from spreading to it.
“It was fully involved when I got there, fire pushing out every window and door,” Hurlburt said of the home.
Police were looking into whether the fire was related to one last month that destroyed a home on John Street in Hudson Falls, which also has been unexplained and started inside the front door.
Hudson Falls Police Chief Randy Diamond said Hudson Falls officers worked with Fort Edward Police and State Police on the investigation, but there does not appear to be a link between the Hudson Falls and Fort Edward fires at this point.
“We have nothing to directly link him to that fire,” Derway said.