Brunswick teen faces arson charge in Mill Street fire

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BRUNSWICK — A teenager has been charged with setting an Oct. 29 fire that destroyed a vacant home on Mill Street.

The 17-year-old Brunswick boy faces a felony charge of arson, while five other teenage boys received summonses on lesser charges of criminal mischief and criminal trespassing.

Police Detective Bill Moir said police believe all six teens had frequented the home prior to the blaze that occurred in the early morning hours of Oct. 29.

Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Emerson said police and fire investigators used a tip from a witness to link graffiti tags found inside the residence to the alleged arsonist’s MySpace page.

Moir said all six teens, ranging from 15 to 17 years old, confessed to the deed when interviewed by police last week. Moir said four suspects involved were from Topsham, while another was from Bremen.

“We feel that this was some sort of random act,” Moir said. “There’s no connection to the owner. I think they just decided to burn the place.”

Moir and Emerson both credited the first-responding fire crew and a new flame-suppressing foam system with containing the fire and preserving evidence at the scene.

“There was amazingly little damage to the crime scene,” Moir said. “There was actually something for investigators to look at. That’s incredible for a vacant home and a fire that was reported by a passerby.”

Emerson said the first crew used the foam suppressant to hold the fire at bay for four or five minutes before other crews arrived.

Emerson also credited the collaborative effort between the fire and police investigators for bringing charges so swiftly. Emerson, Moir and police Lt. Mark Waltz have all been trained as fire investigators, which means the local agencies weren’t forced to rely on resources from the state fire marshal’s office.

Moir said all six boys are scheduled to appear in West Bath juvenile court on Dec. 16. Five of the teens face misdemeanor charges, while the alleged arsonist is facing a Class A felony, a penalty that could bring a 20-year sentence for an adult. Juveniles, he said, typically cannot be imprisoned beyond age 21.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or

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m-brunfire1-110609.jpgFirefighters respond to a vacant Mill Street home in Brunswick on Oct. 29. A teenager has been charged with setting the fire.