Arson arrest of former fire chief raises questions in North Yarmouth

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NORTH YARMOUTH — Fires in North Yarmouth and other towns will be reviewed after the May 7 arson arrest of Ricky Plummer, who was the town’s fire chief from 2012-2014.

Fire Chief Greg Payson on Monday said he was waiting to hear from the state fire marshal’s office about whether it would reopen an investigation into the August 2013 fire that destroyed Wescustogo Hall, when Plummer was chief. He added that he is not aware of any continuing investigations into the fire.

“It’s in their hands,” Payson said.

Arson was not suspected in the fire, which destroyed the 6-decade-old community centerpiece, but a cause was never determined.

Plummer, 59, of Biddeford, left North Yarmouth in September 2014 to become fire chief in Old Orchard Beach.

Investigators from the fire marshal’s office and Maine Forest Service arrested Plummer at 2 a.m. May 7 in Scarborough on a charge of arson in connection with a woods, grass and marsh fire in Old Orchard Beach three weeks earlier, according to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland.

The April 15 blaze was fought by more than 100 southern Maine firefighters and burned 42 acres at the Jones Creek Marsh, McCausland said.

He said state investigators on May 6 seized computers in Plummer’s town-owned car and at the Old Orchard Beach fire station, and his cell phone. They then consulted the York County District Attorney’s Office, which authorized the charge of arson against the chief.

Plummer was arrested at his mother-in-law’s home and brought to Cumberland County Jail in Portland, with bail set at $10,000. He was expected to make his first court appearance this week.

Fires that took place in communities where Plummer served as chief will be reviewed, to determine whether it is necessary to re-open any investigations, McCausland said Monday.

Payson, meanwhile, emphasized in a May 7 press release that North Yarmouth “does not have any unresolved fires under investigation, (including) the Wescustogo Hall fire of Aug. 29, 2013, nor have we been contacted by the State Police or the State Fire Marshal’s Office.”

He noted that during his tenure in North Yarmouth, Plummer “was able to secure a recruitment and retention grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. With the help of the grant, the Fire Rescue Department was able to recruit many new members to the department that are currently here today.”

He asked the public to be patient “and allow the justice system do the work that it was designed to do.”

Prior to becoming chief in North Yarmouth, Plummer was the town’s public safety assistant from 2011-2012. Has been a full-time firefighter for four decades, and was chief of the Marlborough, Massachusetts, Fire Department from April 2010 through August 2011.

Plummer previously was fire-rescue chief and public safety and emergency management agency director in Gray (2007-2010), fire-rescue chief and emergency management director in Cocoa, Florida (2005-2007) and in Biddeford (2003-2005), and fire chief and public safety and EMA director in Standish (2001-2003).

In New Hampshire, he was town manager of Milton from 1995-1996 and fire chief in Portsmouth from 1996-2001. He has also served as a forest fire warden and instructor for a firefighter rookie school.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Ricky Plummer, North Yarmouth’s fire chief from 2012-2014, was arrested May 7 on a charge of arson related to fire in Old Orchard Beach, where he is now chief.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.