Edna Godin tried to get her landlord’s attention last week by stuffing newspaper under the siding of her Biddeford apartment building at 358 Main St. and lighting it, police say.

Biddeford police charged her with arson, even though the asbestos siding didn’t burn.

After questioning her, officers also charged her with arson in a fire last year that destroyed an apartment building on Kossuth Street where she lived. That fire sent her husband to the hospital with breathing difficulties. Nobody else was hurt.

Godin is the second Biddeford woman to be charged in as many months with setting fire to her own apartment building.

Nicole M. Howe, 28, was charged with setting the fire that badly damaged the apartment building at 22 Cutts on Nov. 9. That fire displaced 13 tenants.

Howe described the fire to WGME-TV that day and lamented the loss of all of her possessions, including her cats and her car. She was arrested a week later.

The two arrests are surprising, say state officials.

“Fire-setting behavior has always been typically associated with being a male thing,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Joe Thomas. “We’re seeing a lot more activity with females in fire setting.”

On Monday, state police did announce the arrests of two men on charges of setting fire to their own homes in separate incidents.

Raymond Thompson, 35, of Limington was arrested Friday by the state police tactical team on a charge of setting fire to his house on Boothbay Road in 2007. He has since rebuilt the house, where police say they recovered stolen items from burglaries, which the York County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

Police arrested Alan Crooker, 62 of Augusta on Monday and charged him with setting fire to his house at 7 Federal St. on Jan. 28. The fire, which police believe was financially motivated, did $100,000 worth of damage to the house and damaged a home next door.

People setting fire to their own homes is common enough that investigators often include residents among initial suspects, along with people who discover the fires.

Godin appeared in Biddeford District Court on Monday.

There are various motivations for people who set fires, Thomas said. Some of the people are young and curious. Some have a financial motive. The most serious are serial arsonists, he said.

In the middle are people who are seeking help or attention, often associated with mental health problems.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]