A 43-year-old Kenmore man has been arrested in connection with an April 9 arson fire on Benzinger Street that threatened the lives a man and a woman and five children ages 5 to 18.
Joseph C. Chowaniec, who lived in a rooming house in the 1000 block of Military Road, was charged by Fire Marshals Edwin Ortiz and WilTyler with second-degree arson, a felony that carries a prison term of up to 25 years if he is convicted of the apparent revenge-fire at 141 Benzinger.
Investigators said Chowaniec’s arrest was facilitated by the video cameras on School 43 next door to the home and the $500 reward Common Council President Richard Fontana put out for information leading to the arrest.
In addition to second-degree arson Chowaniec is being held on criminal mischief charges for causing some fire damage to the adjacent school and on child endangerment charges for the risk to the three young girls and two young boys who escaped the home with the father and mother. Chowaniec apparently thought a woman who had recently scorned his advances at a local bar lived at the Benzinger Street home.
Ortiz said look into whether a key witness, who is reluctant to be identified, should receive the reward. Chowaniec is jailed pending further court proceedings.