An Elma man was charged with reckless endangerment after police found him sitting in a chair near a tree at about 9 p.m. watching his house burn down.
Dennis Deandrea, 55, told a 911 dispatcher that he was doing a “controlled burn” of the vacant two-apartment house at 6216 Broadway, Lancaster, which was not insured.
He was initially taken in as a “person of interest” but later was booked and then held at the Erie County Holding Center when he couldn’t post the $5,000 bail.
Lancaster detectives said Deandrea, who lost an insurance claim after a suspicious fire at the same house last April, could not be charged with arson because there is no insurance on the Broadway home, which was totally destroyed by Thursday night’s fire. No criminal charges were lodged against anyone for the fire at the property last April because no provable evidence of arson was found.
The Town Line Volunteer Fire Department worked for a number of hours on the fire Thursday night. No nearby homes were endangered. No firefighters were injured.
Detectives said Deandrea, who was taken to Erie County Medical Center for a checkup early Friday because he complained of pains he was having, apparently started the fire with a cigarette or cigar.
Deandrea is due back in Lancaster Town Court at 11 a.m. Tuesday, detectives said.