Providence, RI - An Olneyville furniture factory that went up in flames, was an arson fire and was insured for $4 million just before the fire, an arson investigator testified in District Court.
East Sider Markus Gorkin, owner of the factory, is charged with first-degree arson for the unsuccessful attempt to destroy the building by using what investigators describe as elaborate incendiary devices triggered by timers.
Gorkin, 67, of 14 Maxcy Drive, is a well-regarded member of the Jewish community who emigrated in 1979 from what is now Belarus, and his wife is a physician. He has said outside the court that he has helped hundreds of Jewish emigrants to relocate to the United States by assisting them with jobs, short-term living expenses, education and similar arrangements.
The police say that Gorkin, who holds a college degree in engineering, used his mechanical expertise to cobble together simple components to set up six incendiary devices to burn his business, United Industries of New England, which is housed in a mill complex at 99 Hartford Ave., across the street from the Olneyville Post Office.
Only one of the devices placed throughout the two-story building ignited, apparently at about midnight, causing a fire that scorched a wall and burned a small hole in the first-floor ceiling. The smoldering blaze, which set off the sprinklers, was discovered at about 5:30 a.m. when a factory employee saw water running under a door and out of the building.
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