Randolph man seen at property before massive blaze

Photo by Timothy Frudd Firefighters are pictured Wednesday morning at the scene of a large fire on Second Street in Kennedy. A Randolph man was charged with third-degree arson following an investigation.

KENNEDY — A Randolph man seen entering a Second Street property in Kennedy before a massive fire broke out, eventually destroying two multi-families homes, was charged by the New York State Police with felony arson.

Aubrey E. Baize had been remanded to Chautauqua County Jail to await arraignment following an investigation by state troopers out of the Jamestown police barracks. The 28-year-old was charged with third-degree arson, an E felony, for his role in Wednesday’s fire first reported at about 10 a.m. and which drew firefighters from a dozen departments to Kennedy.

In a news release, the State Police said Baize was seen entering the house at Second Street and Daily Hill Road and near the Kennedy fire station before the fire began. The ensuing blaze reduced the property to ashes, destroyed a neighboring home and melted the siding to a third property across the street on Daily Hill Road.

Firefighters remained on scene for several hours, battling fires at both properties as well as temperatures that topped 80 degrees by mid-morning.

Keith Bean, Kennedy fire chief, said the flames, difficulty in establishing a water supply, high temperatures and the wind made for “a bad combination” in firefighting efforts. The first engine arrived on scene moments after the fire was reported and the last one left around 4 p.m. Firefighters returned twice afterward after receiving reports that the smoldering debris had rekindled.

Bean said the first property was leveled by the blaze while the neighboring home had to be excavated in order for first responders to get to remnants of the fire.

Both were two-family homes with occupants upstairs and downstairs; the American Red Cross was assisting the families displaced by the blaze.

No injuries were reported.

Bean thanked the firefighters who responded to Kennedy on Wednesday, again reiterating the difficulties in battling the blaze and stifling temperatures. Mutual aid departments included Falconer, Frewsburg, Gerry, Ellington, Sinclairville, Kiantone, Randolph, Busti, Cherry Creek, Fluvanna, Lakewood and Ellery Center. Chautauqua County EMS also responded.

Baize’s arrest was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Chautauqua County Fire Investigators Team. The Randolph man was no longer in the county jail as of Thursday morning, according to online records with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

An investigation into the blaze remained ongoing, the State Police said.

“The surrounding community and Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office assisted in this case,” NYSP said.


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