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Suspected arsonist in Elmwood Village fires "known to police"

Posted at 2:59 AM, Apr 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-09 17:44:40-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo police tell 7 Eyewitness News they have 20-year-old Nathan Wasyl on Middlesex Avenue in custody in connection to "at least five overnight garage fires" in Buffalo's Elmwood Village.

7 Eyewitness News dug into Wasyl's past and found two arrest records in North Tonawanda back in 2016 and 2017 for petit larceny and disorderly conduct that appear to be the same Nathan Wasyl. Police would not confirm whether it is the same person, but they did say he is "known to police" in North Tonawanda dating back years.

He is facing at least 20 charges, most of which are felony charges. He faces five counts of arson, five counts of reckless endangerment, five counts of criminal mischief, four counts of burglary, one count of trespassing and one count of petit larceny.

The first fire was reported around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday on Cleveland Avenue between Delaware Avenue and Tudor Place. According to a 7 Eyewitness News photographer who was on the scene, a car caught fire in a garage causing $100,000 in damages.

Then right around 2 a.m. crews responded to another garage fire, this one on Highland Avenue between Delaware Avenue and Elmwood Avenue.

Firefighters also responded to an address on Elmwood Avenue between Lancaster Avenue and Lafayette Avenue. Whether it was for a garage fire is still unknown.

Police officers, firefighters and first responders were seen scrambling around Elmwood Village streets going from fire to fire. This caused a massive strain on resources, leaving the Buffalo Fire Department with only one battalion chief and seven engines to cover the rest of the city while these fires were being put out.

We've learned at least two firefighters were hurt working these fires. They suffered minor injuries, according to a fire chief at one of the scenes. One was treated and released, the other will be out for at least a week. Both suffered minor burns to the face and neck.

Police say Wasyl was trying to burglarize homes and set fires as a distraction tactic. He traveled from home to home on a bicycle. He was caught on Ring surveillance video hopping a fence. Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo says Wasyl was caught in the act of trying to start a sixth fire on Middlesex.

Damage in total, according to Buffalo Fire, is more than $800,000.

Buffalo Fire investigators are trying to determine how the fires were started.

Wasyl is due back in court on Friday, April 12, for a felony hearing. He was taken to jail without bail. If convicted on all charges, Wasyl faces up to 75 years in prison.