Port Henry A former Mountain Lake Services employee is suspected of starting a chain of fires that did more than $500,000 in damage at the Port Henry agency Jan. 2.
Joseph P. King, 43, a former staff member, was arrested at the scene at 5:30 a.m. after he allegedly drove over fire hoses and ladders, and narrowly missed striking some firefighters.
The Port Henry man was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated, with a blood alcohol content of at least .18, more than twice the legal limit. He was also charged with five counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, one count of obstruction of firefighting operations and one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief. Felony charges of arson of a structure and arson of a motor vehicle are pending.
King was arraigned in front of Moriah Justice Brian Venne and remanded to the Essex County Jail in lieu of bail in the amount of $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond.
The first fire, at the Mountain Lake Services offices at 4322 Main St. in Port Henry, was reported at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday by the Moriah Ambulance Squad while en route to a nearby call.
While firefighters were at the first fire more calls began coming in.
There were fires in a van in the Mountain Lake Services parking lot on Rice Street; a fire at the agency’s gas pumps; and a fire in the agency’s headquarters, the Helen F. McDonald Center, at 10 St. Patrick’s Place
Port Henry, Crown Point, Moriah and Mineville-Witherbee firefighters responded.
The State Office of Fire Prevention and Control in Albany is investigating along with the Essex County Fire Investigation Unit. State Police Uniform Division and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation are also involved.
Mountain Lake facilities were closed at the time and no one was injured.
The agency opened as usual on Monday, Jan. 2.