Ari Saati, Managing Editor
In the wake of seven “fire incidents” since Friday afternoon, the Oneonta Police Department has arrested 22-year-old Oneonta resident, Gable Bugel. Bugel is being charged with attempted third-degree arson for trying to set a fire behind Main Street’s Community Bank on Sunday night. His involvement with any of the weekend’s fires is still under investigation.
Serious damage has been done to a vacant home at 1 Fair St. and the Habitat for Humanity office at 50 Dietz St., with adjacent homes suffering minor damages. Bugel’s arrest was in response to a trash bin on fire behind Community Bank, near 28 Ford Ave. on Sunday. He was found hiding behind the YMCA.
Mary Ellen Murphy’s garage at her Eighth St. home of 12 years was charred late Friday night, destroying much of her six-year-old grandson’s belongings. “He watched it all. He watched his life burn,” Murphy told the Daily Star.
In response to the destruction done to Habitat for Humanity’s office, the charity organization may be forced to move their operations. “It’s so hard. You are working with families and you are trying to do good work,” President Karen Joest told the Daily Star. “It’s going to slow down the work that we do with our partner families. It makes me very sad it was arson.”
Bugel, now being held in Otsego County jail without bail, has a history of arson, and was sentenced to five years‘ probation for his involvement in a Halloween night fire in 2007. That incident left seven people homeless, and did substantial damages to three separate businesses.
Bugel is unemployed and not currently enrolled in college, according to Oneonta police.
The Common Council is offering a $5,000 reward for any information on the fires that have been deemed arson.