May 7, 2013

New fire puts Lewiston on alert

Police add patrols and city officials secure buildings after the third blaze in eight days in a downtown area.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Firefighters work at the Bartlett Street apartment buildings that burned Monday morning.

Photo by Matt Byrne / Staff Writer

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Lewiston officials plan to check and secure vacant properties in the area within the pink line, and police will step up patrols, in the wake of three fires in eight days.

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"He was mothballing them," Arsenault said of the unoccupied structures.

Lewiston fire investigator Paul Ouellette said police have questioned two people in connection with the fire.

Shannon McWilliams, who lives nearby on Pierce Street, said she watched as police took a man, identified as Brian Morin Sr., into custody after the blaze began.

Morin, 29, who was released later Monday morning, said he was returning to an apartment where he was staying with friends near the fire site about 3 a.m. Monday, around when the fire began.

He said he tried rousing people in a neighboring building, but couldn't wake anyone. Soon after, police arrived and he was taken into custody for questioning. He was released about seven hours later.

"(The police) asked why I did it, and what I used to set it," said Morin, who was convicted in 2001 of unlawful sexual conduct.

He said he will take a polygraph test Tuesday and believes it will show his innocence. "I'm not going to admit to something I didn't do," he said.

Officials would not say whether Morin has been ruled out as a suspect, or whether anyone else has been identified.

Nadeau, the deputy city administrator, praised the community response to the fire and encouraged people to continue to pass tips to police.

"The message needs to be clear. ... We are exhausting every opportunity and every resource to make sure people feel safe," he said. "We hope people who live in this city can go to bed tonight feeling safe."

But people who live in the neighborhood said they don't feel safe.

Jenn Ahlberg, who watched from a stoop Monday morning as firefighters mopped up on Bartlett Street, said she was shocked by the timing of the fires.

"It makes me wonder which building is going to be next," she said. 

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@mainetoday.com

Twitter: grahamgillian 

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

mbyrne@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Firefighters work at the scene of a fire that destroyed two vacant apartment buildings on Bartlett Street in Lewiston on Monday morning. Fire Chief Paul LeClair said it took firefighters nearly four hours to bring the flames under control.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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Firefighters spray water on what's left of the roof of a vacant apartment building on Bartlett Street in Lewiston on Monday.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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Firefighters spray water on the roof of a vacant apartment building on Bartlett Street in Lewiston on Monday.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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A firefighter checks for hot spots on the front of a vacant apartment building on Bartlett Street in downtown Lewiston on Monday.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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Authorities say more than 100 firefighters responded to the scene of a blaze on Bartlett Street reported at about 3 a.m. Monday.

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Police and firefighters are on the scene of a three-alarm fire in downtown Lewiston on Monday morning.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer



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