Woman faces charges over fire


The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE – City police said officers arrested a woman Wednesday for recklessly causing a fire in May while inside a home occupied by six children.

Mary Beth Bates, 29, of 182 Dennie Road, Mayfield, was arrested on a Fulton County Superior Court Warrant signed by Judge Polly Hoye on six counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors.

On May 19, police said, an intoxicated Bates recklessly caused a fire on the first floor of a single family home at 44 Third St., which was occupied by four adults and six children.

The fire was extinguished by the Fire Department, police said, and there were no injuries.

The Fire Department and Police Department conducted an investigation. After the investigation, police said, the case was turned over to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. A grand jury eventually returned the case to City Court for the misdemeanor charges.

Detective Sgt. Marc Porter said the 12 counts Bates was charged on stem from the children, who were all younger than age 13.

Porter said the exact cause of the fire is still undetermined, but it occurred in a room the adults were using as a laundry and smoking room.

“[The fire department] hadn’t completely ruled out careless deposit of smoking materials,” Porter said.

“All natural and accidental causes were examined and eliminated except for the presence of smoking materials and human involvement,” said Fire Chief Beth Whitman-Putnam. “At the completion of our investigation our fire cause remained undetermined.”

She said it was a relatively small fire that remained in the laundry room. There was minor fire damage to the room, Whitman-Putnam said, along with moderate smoke damage to the laundry room and kitchen.

Porter said a few of the adults, including Bates, had been out socially and she was intoxicated and got into an argument prior to the incident.

He said she went into the smoking room for a short period of time and came out at which point smoke was smelled in the house and the adults got everyone out with no injuries.

“It was potentially a reckless act,” Porter said. “Whether there was enough time to allow a cigarette to smolder, given the short time frame, it’s probably doubtful, but it went to a grand jury and the jury did not indict on a felony arson charge.”

He said Bates was living in the residence during the time of the fire but has since moved.

Bates was arraigned before Judge Traci DiMezza and released on her own recognizance to re-appear in court Monday.