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Police: Saratoga apartment fire was arson

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Albany/HV: Police: Saratoga apartment fire was arson
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Three months after an early morning fire destroyed a row of historic buildings, Saratoga Springs Police announce the caused. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, from the very beginning, authorities have been investigating the fire as an arson.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Three months after an early morning fire tore through five historic row buildings on Saratoga's Woodlawn Avenue, first responders are still amazed everyone escaped with their lives.

"Whether you're a spiritual person or not, outside of divine intervention, there's no reason for them to be here,” said Saratoga Springs Assistant Police Chief John Catone, referring to the downstairs residents of the building. “They should have died in that fire."

Shortly after 4 a.m. July 28th, firefighters received the first 911 call. It would be five hours before the fire, which quickly spread from building to building, was under control.

After a renovation more than 70 years ago, officials say only the front of the building contained firewalls.

"That's why, in this case, the fire was able to spread so fast, so quickly along the units," Saratoga Springs Police Chief Robert Williams said.

While many quickly speculated old, faulty wiring was to blame, police shot down those reports at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

"In layman's terms, it's arson," Catone said.

After collecting evidence and conducting interviews, investigators began to suspect arson within the first 24 hours. They believe someone used a liquid accelerant to start fires at at least two points in the rear of the building, which was built in 1870.

"The first point of origin is right in the doorway,” Catone said while scrolling through a slideshow of photos of the fire. “It is a common hallway that split [buildings] 108 and 106."

Police have not made any arrests but do have a person or persons of interest, whom they won't name, but say did not live at Woodlawn Avenue. Twenty-one hours after the fire, they conducted a search warrant at a home in Wilton.

"We're going to follow the evidence, we're going to continue the investigation,” Catone said. “When it gets to the point that there's enough information, enough evidence to make an arrest, we will do so."

As police continue to look for information that leads to an arrest, they're now asking anyone who may have seen or heard something that morning to help with their investigation.

"I'm hopeful the people involved the person or people involved have told other people and those people decide we need to do the right thing and come forward," Catone said.

All five of the buildings, stretching from 102-108 Woodlawn Avenue, are a total lost. Some of the structures are being demolished by hand. That work is expected to take until at least the end of the year.

Because the buildings are historical, the owners hope to maintain the structure’s façade.

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