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Arson suspected in fire at martial arts studio

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SCOTIA — A fire at a local martial arts academy in Scotia late Wednesday is being investigated as an arson, police said Thursday.

The fire at Team Jucao Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on Mohawk Avenue was put out within minutes and caused minimal damage to the business, fire officials said.

But investigators also found an item which had been set on fire, Police Chief Daniel Harrington said Thursday. He declined to describe the item further, citing the ongoing investigation, other than to say it wasn’t a bomb. Authorities also found a note at the scene.

The incident is being investigated as an arson, Harrington said.

Harrington, however, called it a localized incident surrounding an “escalating issue” at the business.

The note, visible at the scene, appeared to read in part “This isn’t over.”

“We have a person of interest we are investigating,” Harrington said.

Fire crews arrived at the 24 Mohawk Ave. scene at around 10 p.m., after receiving a call of flames being seen through the back door of the building, Fire Chief Ken Almy said. A neighbor is believed to have spotted it and called it in, he said.

The arriving crews soon determined the fire to be small and they put it out in minutes, Almy said.

The crews then searched the rest of the building and found nothing else. The scene was turned over to Schenectady County Fire Investigators and Scotia Police.

Team Jucao Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has been open for six years, with four of them spent at the Scotia location, owner Nels Larson said Wednesday.

Larson declined to comment further on what happened due to it still being under investigation.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” he said, noting he hopes to have it resolved soon.

Around 60-70 people are at the business every night, depending on classes, Larson said.

Michael Goot covers politics, crime and courts, Warren County, education and business. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com

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