Trail camera could help probe into 3rd suspicious fire at old hotel

wwny Trail camera could help probe into 3rd suspicious fire at old hotel

TOWN OF HOUNSFIELD, N.Y. (WWNY) - As state police investigate who’s behind the fires at the old Harbor Motel, a trail camera near the building could prove helpful.

For the third time in just over a month, a suspicious fire struck the old Harbor Motel on State Route 3 in the town of Hounsfield early Friday morning.

Firefighters were called to the scene two times last month to extinguish smaller blazes.

But Brownville Assistant Fire Chief Drew Heise says the third fire was different.

“There’s a huge change in what this person was using for accelerant and for a fire starter, if you will. The timing’s different. Every time we’ve been here before, we’ve been here between 10 and 11 p.m. So, a 1:20 a.m. start was different for us,” he said.

State police are leading the investigation into the fires. For clues, they could be using footage from one or more trail cameras on neighboring property pointed at the motel.

What Sackets Harbor Fire Captain Stephen Sullivan knows for sure is this fire has knocked down the motel for good.

"That building is totally useless at this time. Nobody could afford to rebuild with what's left there," he said.

When the investigation is eventually over, Hounsfield Town Supervisor Tim Scee wants to see the land put to good use.

"I think it probably would be a good thing to demolish this, have a vacant property. And then maybe someone could come in and build a new structure to fit the type of commercial use that they want," he said.

That was the plan. Back in 2016, we reported on plans Chris Swartz and other investors had to put a Jreck Subs on that property.

While property records indicate the property is still in the hands of those investors, Swartz, Jreck’s principal, was sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison for wire fraud and tax evasion.

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