Share this article

print logo

SUSPECT WAS FIRED DAY BEFORE ARSON

The man accused of setting Saturday's multimillion-dollar fire at the Kitchen World complex on Robinson Road had been dismissed by the company the previous day, fire investigators said.

Friday was the final day on the job for Kurt St. Louis, 26, of South Transit Road, according to Niagara County Fire Coordinator James C. Volkosh.

Volkosh said St. Louis returned to the two-story retail/wholesale complex early Saturday, spread an accelerant around a loading dock and ignited it.

"It's nothing more than a lumberyard inside (that area)," Volkosh said, adding that it didn't take long for the fire to rage out of control.

Flames were reported at about 9 a.m., and despite the efforts of 11 volunteer fire companies, the kitchen cabinet/appliance business -- set to celebrate its 30th anniversary later that day -- was a total loss.

Four firefighters were injured battling the blaze, Volkosh said, with one requiring hospital treatment. He was later released. The others were treated at the scene and remained on duty.

St. Louis was charged with third-degree arson, "the highest degree we can file for a fire at a structure that is not occupied," Volkosh said.

He was also charged with second-degree criminal mischief, third-degree burglary and petit larceny. All but the larceny charge are felonies.

St. Louis was arraigned in Lockport Town Court, where bail was set at $250,000, then sent to Niagara County Jail.

Volkosh said the investigators zeroed in on St. Louis after they learned of his dismissal.

The fire originated in an area "where you would not normally expect a fire to start," Volkosh said. "That's a pretty barren area.

An accelerant-sniffing dog from the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control helped determine the fire was arson, investigators said.

There are no comments - be the first to comment