COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A suspected arsonist told police he started a string of small fires in Colonie over the last couple of weeks and according to police documents, he did it for fun. But he says one of the fires unexpectedly grew and damaged a local church.
In an official statement to police just after he was arrested Monday morning, 25-year-old Mark Marcus admitted to setting the fires and called himself an arsonist.
“When I see something, I want to light on fire I use my lighter to light it, Then, ‘whoosh’ it’s out,” stated Marcus.
Marcus was arrested for allegedly starting three fires in the area where he worked at the Times Union. One fire set near homes and one fire nearly burned down a church.
“In this one instance we had the fire spent to a church nearby which caused extensive damage. It could have been far worse,” said Colonie Police Lieutenant Daniel Belles.
The Blessed Virgin Mary of Czestchohowa Parish suffered the worst damage. Colonie Fire Services, Senior Fire Protection Specialist, Ben Stevens says the fire was dangerous for firefighters.
“They had a number of propane tanks in there for barbecues grills and such. I’m not sure if one actually exploded or if something ruptured on the tank. But it did cause those propane tanks venting the propane [and] that accelerated the fire and caused the fire to grow greatly. And it is a concern to the firefighters who are going into this situation who may not realize that there are those materials that are stored there,” said Stevens.
Lt. Belles says Marcus does not have a previous record but says the pattern of behavior is something to be concerned about.
“Because even though it’s small, when you saw it, it can grow pretty rapidly,” said Belles.
In his statement Marcus says he likes starting fires but never meant to cause any damage. He is charged with four criminal counts. Two are felony charges for Criminal Mischief and Arson.
If anybody gets hurt, it could be really serious. So luckily in this case the damage was minor in most the fires,” said Belles.
Marcus was arranged in the Town of Colonie Justice Court. He was charged with second-degree criminal mischief, fourth-degree arson, fifth-degree arson, and second-degree reckless endangerment. Marcus was released to the supervision of Albany County Probation pending a future court appearance. Police investigations are ongoing.