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This morning crews began work to tear down a house at 927 Charlton. The house has burned three times since 2019 and is uninhabitable, with the owner convicted of arson and currently in jail.
The City of West St. Paul followed a lengthy process, officially declaring the home uninhabitable last November, which initiated the final steps to have the home demolished.
Neighbors rejoiced at the work, one applauding and another saying, “Today is a good day.”
The Arson Case
Randip E. Satoskar was found guilty of first-degree arson and sentenced to 48 months in prison and ordered to pay $151,162 in restitution. He was convicted of setting two fires in the home, the first on July 12, 2019, the next two days later. The home burned a third time in January 2020.
According to court documents, Satoskar behaved erratically:
Emergency workers responded to a report of a fire at Satoskar’s house in West St. Paul on July 12, 2019. The fire department searched the house for occupants and initially found no one inside. But during a second search, they found Satoskar crawling out from under a bed in the northeast bedroom. Satoskar asked the firefighters what they were doing in his house. He was taken outside where police observed that he was “soaking wet, . . . covered in soot, [with] scratches on him, he was bleeding from several spots . . ., and he was unable to sit still.” Officers found Satoskar’s behavior to be “very suspicious.”
Two days after the fire, on July 14, 2019, Satoskar’s neighbor called 911 to report a fire alarm and large quantities of smoke billowing from Satoskar’s window. While the neighbor spoke to the 911 dispatcher, he observed Satoskar in the backyard. He reported that Satoskar “was not wearing a shirt, was walking around in . . . sort of a stupor, carrying a red container, and making no attempt to either extinguish the fire or get help.”
Police officers found Satoskar hiding in the rafters of his detached garage and attempting to ignite the structure with a blowtorch. When Satoskar did not follow orders to come down from the rafters, officers “pointed firearms at him, sprayed pepper spray at him, and shot non-lethal bullets at him” before finally getting him to comply using a stun gun. After arresting Satoskar, officers found two torch devices-one in the rafters and another in his pocket.
The trial was delayed multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a mistrial when a juror became sick.
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