Man Accused Of Arson Held On Bail

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Bail has been set at $50,000 for the man accused of arson in connection with the fire that swept through a Watertown apartment building Tuesday.

At his arraignment in Watertown city court Wednesday morning, 25 year old Joshua Metzler of Watertown was ordered held in Jefferson County jail.

He has been charged with second degree arson for allegedly setting fire to a High Street apartment building, leaving 12 people homeless and sending three to the hospital.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 21 to determine if the case goes to a grand jury.

Following is our earlier report:

The Watertown man police questioned in connection with an early Tuesday morning apartment building fire on High Street turned himself in to police later in the day.

Watertown City Police say 25 year old Joshua Metzler was charged with second degree arson.

Metzler called 911 to turn himself in shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. He is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday morning in city court.

Metzler, of 717 State Street, is accused in the Tuesday morning fire that swept through an apartment house at 239 High Street.

Metzler was taken in for questioning Tuesday morning, but police did not arrest him at the time.

Tuesday afternoon, police investigators executed a search warrant at Metzler's apartment.

From the start, residents of the High Street apartment building declared the fire an arson. They said someone poured gasoline on the front porch of the building, set the fire and ran away.

Kevin Smith, who lives across the street, says he saw someone leave a gas can on the porch and light the blaze.

"I myself took the gas tank off the front porch, threw it out onto the sidewalk and started knocking on windows hollering, trying to get the people out," Smith said.

"We've had a lot of people coming forward, some witnesses, some aren't clear on what they actually saw, but those are the pieces that we get and have to put together, " said Watertown police Lieutenant Frank Derrigo.

State investigators were on the scene Tuesday morning using a dog to sniff for 'accelerants.'

Watertown City Fire Chief Dale Herman said the dog exhibited behavior indicating that an accelerant might have been used.

(Accelerants are things like gasoline, used to make a fire spread quickly.)

City fire crews and neighboring volunteer departments were called to the 200 block of High Street about 3:15 Tuesday morning. The city's entire on-duty fire staff was on the scene and 20 more firefighters were called in to help.

The building was extensively damaged.

"I was sound asleep, so was my daughter, so was my grandson" said tenant Emma Parody.

"All of a sudden, our neighbor upstairs came down and knocked on our front door, said there was a fire, don't go out the front door, go out the back door."

"The whole place went up in smoke," Parody said.

"We understand that four of the eight units were occupied and we believe everyone is accounted for at this time," Herman said.

Herman said some people jumped out of windows to escape the blaze.

Three people were taken to the hospital.

Thursday, October 30, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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