SCARBOROUGH — An R.C. Moore truck driver was sleeping in his parked rig at the company’s Ginn Road terminal Sunday night when he was awakened by the sound of crackling.
Opening the blinds, he saw a truck on fire. After backing his truck away, he called 911.
Three minutes later, a passer-by called police to report fire at R.C. Moore’s Spring Water Road site in Poland, 30 miles away.
State and federal officials spent Monday investigating the fires that destroyed six tractor-trailer cabs and damaged two others in what Maine Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland called “likely coordinated arson.”
“This is unique,” McCausland said, “to have two incidents at the same company within minutes apart. I can’t recall anything even similar or remotely similar to what we’re dealing with here.”
Investigators are asking for help finding a gray car with a green driver’s door and an amber light on top. The car pulled into the Poland site Sunday between 3 and 3:30 p.m. and turned around. It abruptly drove off when a staffer from another business approached.
“We have no idea whether that is connected or not, but obviously we need to locate the driver of that vehicle to determine what they were doing here and the circumstances of that,” McCausland said.
The Sunday night fires blazed through three trucks parked in Scarborough and five parked in Poland before firefighters could get them under control.
No one was hurt. R.C. Moore President Kelly Moore on Monday estimated the damage at $750,000.
Investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spent Monday examining the sites of the fires. McCausland declined to say how investigators think the fires might have started or whether an accelerant was used.
“I’m not getting into any of that,” he said. “This is really early in the investigation to try to pinpoint.”
Investigators on Monday also took a preliminary look at surveillance camera footage from the two locations. They planned to examine that footage further, looking for both the gray car that was seen in Poland on Sunday afternoon and for anyone who might have set the fires.
R.C. Moore was founded about 60 years ago by Richard C. Moore. Today the trucking company employs 280 people and has 220 trucks at multiple sites in Maine and out of state. Its corporate headquarters is in Scarborough.
Its president, one of the founder’s sons, called the situation “kind of stressful.”
“We feel that we have a good relationship with the communities and with the people that work for us. We’re not quite sure why this happened, but hopefully these people will get to the bottom of it,” Moore said during a news conference with fire officials.
Moore said the company has never experienced vandalism or arson before.
“Some of these trucks when I checked them last night (after the fire), they were unlocked — which they shouldn’t be but, I mean, drivers leave their personal items in them, never have any vandalism or stuff stolen out of the trucks,” Moore said. “So this is quite a surprise.”
He dismissed speculation that the arson could be related to R.C. Moore’s work hauling water for controversial bottler Poland Spring.
“I don’t think it’s anything against Poland Spring at all,” he said.
Moore said the Scarborough and Poland locations were not the company’s largest and did not stand out for any reason. He said he couldn’t think of any current or former employees who would want to set the company’s trucks on fire.
“Nothing stands out right now,” he said. “We’re looking at all possibilities with authorities.”
R.C. Moore President Kelly Moore surveys the damage to several trucks that were destroyed in what police are calling arson at his company’s locations in Scarborough and this one in Poland.