ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The City of Albany is asking for your help finding answers to who caused the fire and destruction of the old Doane Stuart school building.
The City and Crime Stoppers are offering $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of individuals responsible for the fire. The cause of the fire remains undetermined. The Albany Fire Investigation Unit ruled out several causes including electric, gas and spontaneous combustion. They believe the fire was started by a person, but have not determined whether it was accidental or intentional.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan said in a statement, “While our fire investigation continues, I urge anyone with information to reach out to Crime Stoppers today. We hope this significant reward will prompt anyone with information to come forward and help the Albany Fire and Police Departments continue their investigation.”
While the city works to find answers, the Department of Buildings and Regulatory Compliance is working on securing the site of the fire. Director Richard LaJoy said demolition began while the fire was still burning. “We needed to expose the fire for the fire department in order for them to get water on it,” he said. “Once the fire department was finished with their investigation and State Police were finished, we were able to continue the demolition which ended, structure wise, two days ago.”
LaJoy said he’s been to the site multiple times over the past two years re-securing the buildings and preventing people from taking materials for scrapping. With demolition complete, they’re now working on re-securing sections of the building left undamaged in the fire to prevent any future scrapping or potential damage.
“We can’t leave the scene without securing those two structures, we’ve already begun boarding up one of the structures,” LaJoy said. “They were in good shape, the fire did not transmit into those buildings because we were able to demolish the buildings or pedestrian walkways to each of those structures while it was on fire.”
Some parts of the school were saved in the wreckage including pieces of brick, parts of the bell and masonry from the sanctuary. LaJoy says those artifacts will be preserved and some are already in their new home at the current Doane Stuart school.