Christopher Veysey was in line to board a Greyhound bus to South Carolina on Tuesday when state investigators arrived to question him about the spectacular fire that had destroyed a plumbing business in Freeport.

After a two-hour interview, Veysey, 22, most recently of New Gloucester, was charged with arson and nine counts of burglary.

The fire late Monday night did $700,000 worth of damage to Bob Miles & Son’s 100-foot-by-50-foot building at 1162 Route 1, north of downtown Freeport.

“Everything is just shot, no power and no telephones,” Robert Miles said Tuesday while trying to keep his plumbers and other employees working on the road.

The Miles family has operated a plumbing and heating business in Freeport since Robert Miles’ grandfather started the company in 1951.

A neighbor called firefighters to the fire at the rear of the building at 11 p.m. Monday. The flames spread from work vans and a personal vehicle up to the roof of the building, said Freeport Fire Chief Darrel Fournier.

“When we got there, there was heavy fire in the rear of the building extending up to the attic area,” Fournier said. Fire officials struck a second alarm, summoning help from Brunswick, Yarmouth, Pownal and Topsham.

The fire burned the roof, which eventually collapsed into the structure, and much of the equipment and supplies inside were damaged.

There appears to be no connection between Veysey and Miles or his company.

Veysey, who has lived in Hartland, Palmyra, Portland and New Gloucester, apparently had no fixed address when he was arrested late Tuesday morning.

He was in Freeport to visit an acquaintance and apparently was walking on Route 1 past the business when he broke into company vehicles parked in the lot behind the building, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

Sgt. Joel Davis of the state Fire Marshal’s Office said Veysey stole change and other items, then set fire to the contents of four of the vans to cover up evidence of the crime. He then hitchhiked to Portland, where he planned to board a 9 a.m. bus for the 28-hour ride to South Carolina.

Investigators began looking for Veysey after a witness approached them at the scene of the fire with a tip. That contact led to interviews throughout the night that identified Veysey and indicated he was headed to Portland to catch a bus south.

Investigators found no history of fire-setting in Veysey’s adult record and were working to determine whether he set any as a juvenile, Davis said.

Veysey is being held on $300,060 bail in the Cumberland County Jail. He declined a request for comment.

Earlier Monday, Veysey was in Guilford, in Piscataquis County, where he is a suspect in burglaries to some seasonal homes, police said.

In July, he was confronted after allegedly shoplifting a pair of socks from Marden’s in Waterville. He ran when police arrived, but eventually three officers grabbed him.

One of the officers suffered a broken arm in the scuffle, police said. Veysey was charged with the felony of assaulting an officer but was convicted of misdemeanor assault and resisting arrest.

Veysey was convicted of burglary and theft in 2004, when he was 15, and was sentenced to seven days in the Mountain View Youth Development Center and ordered to pay $2,932 in restitution. He was convicted of burglary in 2005 and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution and spend two years on probation.

In Freeport on Tuesday, Miles said he has insurance for his business and plans to rebuild it on the same site. Four of his vehicles burned, but he still has eight trucks.

His friends and family members tried to salvage some of the equipment from the building. Miles said the business records were lost, but employees reconstructed the maintenance calls scheduled for Tuesday and planned a full schedule of work today.

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