Man charged with arson in Harpswell fire

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Area residents remember ‘the big house’

HARPSWELL — The owner of a Cundy’s Harbor farmhouse that burned down on Friday has been charged with arson.

Morgan Pulsifer, 51, was arrested Monday in his New York City apartment after Maine State Fire Marshall officials tracked him there. Wearing a yellow jumpsuit, the color assigned to accused felons, he appeared before a judge on Wednesday at Cumberland County District Court in Portland and had his bail set at $25,000 cash.

His lawyer said he had a long history of mental illness and was on medication for manic depression. Pulsifer did not enter a plea at the time.

Friends of the family and former residents of “the big house,” as the home at 61 Little Ponds Road was known, were shocked and saddened by the fire.

“A lot of hearts were broken by that fire,” said Cricket Tupper, rescue chief of the Cundy’s Harbor volunteer fire department. “It was the end of an era.”

“This is a very, very special place that has for three generations been a center of family and friends gatherings and social events,” said Dianne Carrick, who lived in an apartment in the house from 1987 to 2009.

She recalled winters spent skating and sledding on the pond, followed by lunch and poetry readings inside the house with Susan Pulsifier, the former homeowner and a renowned poet.

Tupper, who also spent time there as a child, recalled sheep, apple trees, honey bees and farming at “the big house.”

“It was beautiful, heaven on earth … it was a deeply loved place belonging to a deeply loved family,” she said.

The 111-year old house went up in flames last Friday afternoon. By the time firefighters responded it was too late to save the house, but they were able to keep the fire from consuming the barn.

“The building was completely involved,” said Cundy’s Harbor Fire Chief Ben Wallace.

“(The fire) was going very hot,” said Tupper, who was one of the first responders at the scene. “As we pulled up with the fire truck the windows were blowing out, the wires were coming down.”

By the time firefighters had extinguished the fire, with help from neighboring stations, there was nothing left to save.

“The only thing left was two chimneys and an end wall,” Wallace said.

After interviewing neighbors and witnesses, an investigator from the State Fire Marshall’s office determined that the fire was intentionally set, and identified Pulsifer as a suspect.

Only one tenant was staying at the house at the time, and no one was harmed in the fire.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.

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A hundred-year old home at 61 Little Ponds Road burned to the ground on Friday. A homeowner, Morgan Pulsifer, has been charged with arson.

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