Great Barrington Police Chief Paul E. Storti, Great Barrington Fire Chief Charles Burger, and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey announced the arrest of an East Street man on arson and related charges stemming from the July 7 fire at a building he owns.

Great Barrington Police and Massachusetts State Police arrested HARRY SANO, 85, last night for arson of a dwelling house, presenting a false insurance claim, and burning a building to defraud an insurer. The arrest came as part of a joint investigation by the Great Barrington Police Department, Great Barrington Fire Department, and members of the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office.

Massachusetts has been using the team concept of fire investigation since the 1980s. Specially trained State Police officers, assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, work collaboratively with additional specialized State Police units, local fire and police department investigators, and other agencies to identify the cause of fires where they are not immediately clear or where a violation of the law – such as arson – may exist.

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Great Barrington Police Chief Storti made the following statement:

Though the building was vacant, the act of setting fire to any structure poses a life and safety hazard to civilians and firefighters alike. I’d like to thank the investigative team for working so hard to identify the facts and circumstances surrounding what we allege was a deliberately-set fire.

Great Barrington Fire Chief Burger said the following:

Great Barrington firefighters battled heavy smoke coming from every area of the structure and flames in the basement, first floor, and second floor. With mutual aid companies from Sheffield and Monterey, they did an outstanding job of preventing the fire from spreading to other nearby buildings and minimizing damage to the building itself.”

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey had the following to say:

Arson is an extremely serious offense and we investigate it as such. Fire doesn’t do what it’s told – it can burn faster and spread further than expected, claiming life and property without warning. We urge anyone with information on an arson fire to share it with investigators or contact the Arson Watch Reward Program at 1-800-682-9229.

The Arson Watch Reward Program provides rewards of up to $5,000 for information that helps to solve arson crimes. It is sponsored by the property and casualty insurance underwriting companies of Massachusetts. Sano, the owner of the burned building, was taken into custody last night in the course of the investigation. He was booked and released by the bail clerk pending arraignment on Monday, July 26.

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