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Arrest made in Albany pharmacy fire

A Walgreen employee who was reprimanded is charged with arson

ALBANY — Emmanuel Sylvester, 21, was arrested Tuesday and charged with arson in connection with a fire at Walgreen Drug Store on Sunday, Albany fire officials say.

Firefighters responded to the fire at 2351 Dawson Road around 10:30 p.m., shortly after the store closed, but were unable to gain entry except by force, said Albany Fire Chief James Carswell Tuesday.

Carswell said that once inside the store, it was discovered that while the flames had been mostly extinguished by the store’s internal sprinkler system, the store was filled with smoke. The fire was intentionally started from a bag of “Match Lite,” a brand of self-starting charcoal briquettes, officials say.

In later interviews with Walgreen management and potential suspects, it was discovered that Sylvester, a store employee at the time of the fire, had been reprimanded late Sunday for less-than-adequate work on aisle six, the source of Sunday’s fire, Carswell said.

In addition, Carswell said that even though the store surveillance camera dedicated to aisle six was not operational on Sunday, other cameras in the store were working and placed Sylvester at the scene.

Carswell said that evidence derived from the cameras and interviews indicated that Sylvester had the opportunity and potential motive to set the fire and so a warrant was issued for his arrest.

“There was very little real damage from the fire,” Carswell said, “But many of the items in the store may have become unfit for sale and will have to be disposed of. It’s hard to say what the read damage is right now.”