Former fire chief now faces three arson charges

Posted at: 10/17/2013 10:52 PM
Updated at: 10/17/2013 11:22 PM
By: Dan Levy

GUILDERLAND - A former Rensselaer County firefighter is now fighting serious criminal charges in Albany County. Matthew Woelfersheim, 37, has been charged with setting two more arson fires in Guilderland, bringing to three the number of buildings he allegedly burned down in that community dating back to early July.

Woelfersheim was led into Guilderland Town Court on Thursday night, just three days after allegedly setting a barn on fire on Stone Road before sun-up.

"We're hoping that the community feels more at east now knowing that we have this individual in custody," said Guilderland Police Captain Curtis Cox.

Cox says Woelfersheim has been a busy man since moving to Guilderland. Authorities believe he set a garage on fire on Carman Road back on July 8th, and another one just down the road on September 30th, both of them destroyed.

Cox would not comment on whether witnesses or surveillance cameras could place Woelfersheim at any of the scenes.

"There's certain information we can't release because detailed information would substantially impede the investigation," Cox said.

The investigation is large scale, crossing the Hudson River into Schaghticoke, where Woelfersheim once served as an assistant fire chief, but was dismissed after allegedly stealing equipment from the fire house.

He also served with the Hoosick Rescue Squad, where a building is dedicated to his uncle.

Coincidentally, dozens of suspicious fires burned in northern Rensselaer County while Woelfersheim lived there.

He also worked as an EMT and a dispatcher for at least three area ambulance companies, companies that tell News Channel 13 they have been contacted, and they're cooperating with authorities as part of the large scale investigation.

Several former co-workers also tells us anonymously, they weren't displeased to see him go.

And the, perhaps also coincidentally, when Woelfersheim settled in Guilderland, that's when residents and firefighters became unsettled.

"Suffice it to say that the evidence that the police department has against this gentleman is cause enough to bring these charges against him," Cox says.