Former assistant fire chief charged with arson

Posted at: 10/15/2013 11:36 PM
By: Dan Levy

GUILDERLAND - The chief suspect in an Albany County arson case used to be an assistant fire chief in Rensselaer County.

After Guilderland Police slapped the cuffs on 37-year old town resident Matthew Woelfersheim, authorities now say they've launched a "large scale" investigation to see if Woelfersheim can be connected to any other unsolved arson cases.

Local authorities say they've been "concerned and confounded" for many years about a fire bug whose been loose in the area. With the arrest of Woelfersheim, they're hoping they've gotten the long overdue break in the case they've needed.

The abandoned garage that burned to the ground on Carman Road in Guilderland on September 30th may not have been a vital building, but it may wind up being a vital clue in a larger arson investigation that's now underway.

Several dozen suspicious fires burned in northern Rensselaer County dating back seven or eight years. Woelfersheim was a member of the Schaghticoke Fire Department during much of that time, serving as assistant fire chief for part of the time.

Woelfersheim also served in the Hoosick Rescue Squad, like many of his family members did. The rescue squad building is dedicated to his uncle.

As empty homes, barns and buildings kept going up in smoke, so too did anxiety levels of residents.

The evidence against Woelfersheim is circumstantial, at best, according to sources, but the investigation is "large scale" and may take quite a bit of time to piece it all together.

Woelfersheim left Schaghticoke a few years ago after being charged with stealing equipment from the fire company.

He remained in the Albany County Jail Tuesday night, awaiting a bail hearing.