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Linda Kellett - Fort Plain firefighters, Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies and State Police gather at the scene of a reported barn fire at 7145 state Route 5S at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday — the second fire call at that address in less than 24 hours. Earlier this month, it was the scene of the removal of 51 canines, mostly of them pit bulls, by a number of area law enforcement agencies. All three investigations are ongoing.

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Police probe fire at site of dog rescue

Thursday, January 24, 2013 - Updated: 8:51 AM

By LINDA KELLETT

C-S-E News Staff

 

MINDEN — State Police investigators are probing multiple fires that took place over the weekend at the town of Minden site where more than 50 dogs and puppies were removed by law enforcement officials earlier this month.

The fires at 7145 state Route 5S were reported in less than a 24-hour period starting on Friday.

Trooper Mark Cepiel, the Troop G public information officer for the New York State Police, on Tuesday confirmed that there were two suspicious fires at that location.

Each of the fire incidents and the ongoing dog investigation are being treated as distinct investigations, he said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact State Police at their 24-hour phone line, 630-1700. All details will be kept confidential, he said.

The first fire was logged by State Police out of Fonda as taking place at 6:45 p.m. Friday. It was labeled in the newsroom blotter as an “arson-motor vehicle/structure” fire in Minden.

While no street address was provided in the report, a Fort Plain fire official confirmed the fire was at the same address as the seizure of over 50 dogs and puppies by law enforcement officials earlier this month.

The second incident, reported at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday, was reported as a barn fire at the Route 5S location between Sanders and Airport roads.  

Fort Plain 1st Assistant Chief David Bouck later said by the time firefighters got to the scene, the fire was out.

Also responding were State Police and Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies.

Bouck said the fire was located outside the barn.

Upon arrival, firefighters walked around and through the structure to check for other problems. Any damage to the exterior siding was slight, Bouck said, noting that the fire was on the road side of the structure.

He wasn’t sure who reported the blaze.

Because of the “liabilities involved” and the nature of the multiple investigations at that location, firefighters turned the fire investigation over to the State Police, said Bouck.

He said State Police have their own fire investigators.

Charges are still pending in connection with the early-January animal seizure.

Cepiel on Tuesday said the removal of 51 canines from the premises stemmed from numerous recent complaints received by State Police, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Fort Plain Police Department about the animals’ reported living conditions there.

Officials from the three agencies responded to 7145 state Route 5S on Jan. 2 to execute a search warrant at the barn. The last of the canines was removed from the premises by 9 p.m. the next night.

Most of the dogs were of the pit bull breed.

Cepiel on Tuesday said the dogs went to care facilities in five different counties. That’s part of why the dog investigation has been so lengthy.

He said, “The logistics of that as well as the number of veterinarians checking the animals and the write-ups [are] part of the investigative process.”

Conferring with county District Attorney James “Jed” Conboy is another facet of that, he added.

According to State Police, officials executing the search warrant allegedly found uninhabitable conditions in the barn, which contained dogs suffering from “various health-related issues including frostbite, open sores and worms.”

The alleged conditions included “an unheated and element-exposed structure, frozen water, a deceased canine, and many of the canines lying in fecal matter,” State Police reported.

Several people, including Joseph, Paul and Diane Marriott, are involved with the property, said Cepiel. “It was murky about who lived there and who owned what. That’s part of the investigation.”

     

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