ELLENVILLE — A burning mattress piled with clothes and fuel was the tip-off that Tuesday night's fire on Kossar Place was set, police said, and investigators quickly focused on the resident's boyfriend.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, the rear of the house was in flames. The fire was out by 3 a.m. Wednesday, but the Ulster County Arson Task Force was called in when the strange scene in the back bedroom was uncovered.
Michael McCarthy, 27, of Ellenville, had a fight with his girlfriend Tuesday at a bar and accused her of cheating on him, police said. He then broke into the woman's house, piled clothes and accelerant on the mattress of a rear bedroom, and set it on fire, authorities said.
“The motivating factor was that he accused his girlfriend of cheating on him ... unfounded, I might add,” said Ellenville police Chief Phil Mattracion. Neither the woman nor her sister, who shared the house, were home at the time of the fire; the family dog got out safely.
Police found McCarthy hiding in a nearby home at 10 a.m. Wednesday and charged him with arson and burglary, felonies. He was arraigned and sent to Ulster County Jail on $100,000 bail.