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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 2, 2010

Police say
House fire no accident

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — A fire that partially destroyed a house at 6068 East Old State Road last week was not accidental, according to the Guilderland Police.

Although the exact cause has not yet been discovered, Lieutenant Dan McNally told The Enterprise yesterday that all potential accidental causes — such as faulty electricity or a lightning bolt — had been ruled out.

The house, formerly owned by Joseph DeFaria, went up in flames in the early hours of Thursday, Aug. 26. Donald Albright, director of the Guilderland Center Fire Department and a member of the Guilderland Fire Investigation Bureau, said the second floor was “pretty well involved in the fire and heavily damaged.”

The house, according to Albright, was in a state of disrepair and contained an accumulation of trash.

“It looked like it was vacant, and that automatically puts up a red flag. It seemed like there may have been some abnormal use of the building,” said Albright,

Rodger Stone, Guilderland’s zoning enforcement officer, had been called to the house off and on over the past several years to issue warnings about the rubbish littering the property.

“I would go over there; they would make a minimal effort to clean up, but it kept recurring,” Stone said. He said the garbage inside the house and on the porch could have contributed to the spread of the fire.

McNally said that, though no one was home at the time the fire was called in, the house was not vacant. Wells Fargo Bank foreclosed on the $285,000 house in May, but DeFaria was still living there, he said.

DeFaria could not be reached for comment.

“There were rumors that he had been evicted, but actually he still had every right to be living there,” McNally said, adding that DeFaria has been staying with a friend since the night of the fire.

This is not the first time DeFaria has dealt with Guilderland police. In January 2007, he was arrested, during a domestic dispute, for second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree unlawful imprisonment, both felonies, and second-degree menacing with a weapon, a misdemeanor. In August 2007 he pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon and was sentenced to pay a $165 surcharge and serve three years of probation.

“I think the guy has fallen on hard times,” McNally said. The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, and McNally said he could not speculate on how long it might last. 

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