A former Old Orchard Beach fire chief pleaded guilty Wednesday to arson for setting a fire last year that burned 42 acres of wetlands.

Ricky Plummer, 61, entered the guilty plea to the Class A felony in York County Superior Court in Alfred. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9, said Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan.

McGettigan said a lesser charge of failing to control or report a fire was dropped as part of a plea agreement with the York County District Attorney’s Office.

Plummer changed his plea to guilty just five days before his trial was scheduled to begin.

McGettigan said the plea agreement is capped, which means that while a judge could sentence Plummer to as much as 10 years in prison, the District Attorney’s Office is recommending that he serve no more than two years in prison, followed by four years of probation.

Probation terms will require that Plummer not possess any incendiary devices and that he undergo psychological counseling, McGettigan said.

Plummer’s attorney, William Bly of Biddeford, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Plummer, who was fire chief at the time of the blaze on April 15, 2016, was arrested after investigators viewed security video that showed him parking his fire department SUV near a hotel and walking into the woods where the fire started, according to an affidavit filed by Matthew Bennett, a ranger with the Maine Forest Service.

Plummer told investigators he had gone into the marsh for “some peace” and to smoke a couple of cigarettes, though he was not known to be a smoker, according to the affidavit.

“Smoking is something that he told me he has never told anyone before and that no one would be able to verify is a practice or habit,” Bennett said in the affidavit.

Although he initially denied that he set the fire, he told investigators that he “knew better” than to be smoking in the marsh because of the dry conditions.

On Wednesday, Plummer admitted in court to committing arson, McGettigan said.

The fire burned 42 acres of wetlands and woodlands on the Jones Creek Marsh, west of East Grand Avenue, and came close to the Davenport condominium complex. The fire spread fast, at a rate of 200 to 500 feet per minute, according to investigators.

More than 100 firefighters battled the wildfire.

Plummer was arrested around 2 a.m. on May 7, 2016, at his mother-in-law’s house in Scarborough. Later that month, he resigned his post.

Plummer had been Old Orchard Beach’s fire chief since 2014, earning an annual salary of $70,500. Before that, he worked for two years as the fire chief in North Yarmouth.

He has also worked as the fire chief in Arundel, Biddeford, Standish, North Berwick, Gray and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]