Arson in Gowanda

OBSERVER Photo by Andrew David Kuczkowski No, it's not shade that is darkening the south side of the pictured building, 21 Jamestown St., Gowanda. That wall is the result of an ongoing arson case from Tuesday's fire in the village that caused the building to be a total loss, around $200,000.

GOWANDA — An arsonist attacked again in the village of Gowanda as two businesses located at 21 Jamestown St. were ruled as a total loss, around $200,000 of damage, due to Tuesday’s fire.

“When I got there … there was heavy smoke and fire on the corner of the building,” Gowanda Fire Chief Nick Crassi said of the blaze that began at around 6:30 p.m. “It had spread up into the rafters and then to the attic part of the building. There’s an apartment upstairs and there’s two businesses downstairs. One is a hair dresser and the other one is Charlie’s Place.”

It was officially ruled an arson Wednesday, however, it’s not the first the village has seen.

On Aug. 21, 2016, two vacant buildings were set ablaze on South Water Street, while the next day on East Main Street, a large garage was burned. The vacant facilities fire was ruled an arson, however, it was unclear if the garage was as well.On Wednesday, the fire-affected portion of the building is a black-burnt wall with water still dripping from areas and scattered debris of siding and building remnants.

“After further investigation, we found that there had been an intentional fire started at the corner of the building where someone had actually used some sort of liquid accelerant and set the bags on fire, so it’s definitely ruled arson,” Crassi added.

The origin of the fire was at the street side corner as it spread upwards to the roof. Crassi noted that the fire took time to put out because of the speed it spread in the dry attic and the difficulty of opening up the building.

Questions arise when it comes to a possible motive. The location of the fire is adjacent to a former Burger King that is now vacant. Despite this, the target was set on a home to some and a workplace for others.

“I don’t know if it’s just mischievous kids that think it’s funny, but we take it very seriously,” Crassi said. “These are our businesses in town and the Mayor (David Smith) expressed a concern to me last night that he wanted to make all efforts to try to catch the culprit of this fire.”

The OBSERVER was recently told that there was a possible suspect, but as of 7 p.m., no charges were filed.

“Well it’s obviously a loss of business not only for us but for the people that were in here,” the owner of the building and co-business owner of Gowanda places Joe Vogtli said. “It’s costly. If the business doesn’t have insurance, it’s a big expense for them. The building is completely destroyed. It’s not good because it affects the Business District. A loss of business and a loss of people downtown.”

Email: Akuczkowski@observertoday.com

Twitter: @Kuczkowski95

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