Renter charged with burning his home

— Photo from Google Street View

The house, at left, which had two rental units, burned on Friday night, Jan. 26. The adjacent motel was unscathed.

GUILDERLAND — Jason R. Candlish, 45, of Guilderland has been charged with third-degree arson and aggravated cruelty to animals after a house fire on Jan. 26.

The call came in at about 6:24 p.m., according to Guilderland Police, and, by the time officers arrived at 2360 Western Ave., the house was fully engulfed in flames.

The address is for both a house and a motel structure; it was the house that was on fire, according to Guilderland Police Captain Eric Batchelder.

Two men lived in the house in separate rental units, he said. 

The property is owned by Jyotsna J. Desai of Loudonville and has a full-market value of $815,529, according to the town’s assessment roll. Desai did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Mary Alice Molgard, who handles public relations for the Northeastern New York Chapter of the American Red Cross, said that the Red Cross offered aid to both men.

“Of course we didn’t know at that point that there would be an arrest for arson,” Molgard told The Enterprise on Monday. “We got the call from the fire department, asking for assistance to two individuals … The other gentleman needed a Spanish translator.”

Neither Molgard nor Batchelder identified the Spanish-speaking man.

Molgard added, “To be honest, the mission of the Red Cross is: We provide assistance when people need assistance.”

An investigation by the Guilderland Police Department fire investigation team and the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control resulted in Candlish’s arrest.

Batchelder declined to comment on the investigation or on a motive for the arson. “It’s still an open case …,” he said. “We’re at the infant stages,” he said, referencing a hearing in court.

Several men listed on the state’s sex-offender registry live at the M&M Motel — Candlish is not on the registry. Asked if this had anything to do with the fire, Batchelder said, “I don’t think there’s a correlation there.”

Asked why Candlish was charged with animal cruelty, Batchelder said, “A cat was in the building … The cat died in the fire.”

Volunteers from the Guilderland, Fort Hunter, and the Westmere fire department responded to the scene and put out the fire.

Candlish was arraigned in Guilderland Town Court and remanded to Albany County’s jail.

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