A man accused of setting fire to a Bath elementary school last year is expected to plead guilty to arson and face sentencing.

Allan Thomas Vigil, of Bath, allegedly admitted to police he broke into the Dike Newell School on June 10, 2022, and used a lighter to set on fire “lots of paper” he found in a supply closet, according to court documents. The blaze rapidly spread, and two firefighters were injured battling the blaze.

Allan Thomas Vigil in a 2014 mugshot. Courtesy of Maine Department of Corrections

Vigil was arrested the next day and charged with arson and burglary. Three days after the fire, flames reignited from smoldering embers, causing further damage to the school.

Vigil is expected to plead guilty to arson Wednesday during a hearing at West Bath District Court, according to court documents. The charge is a Class A felony with a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Jennifer Cohen, Vigil’s attorney, declined to comment on her client’s case. District Attorney Natasha Irving did not return a message seeking comment.

In 2014, Vigil was sentenced to four years’ probation after he was accused of setting several fires in Bath, including at the Merrymeeting Center for Child Development in 2013 when he was 21. He was also given a 12-year suspended prison sentence.

The fire at Dike Newell destroyed about 60% of the school and left it unusable. The school’s roughly 225 students in grades pre-K through 2 were moved to temporary classrooms at the former Bath Regional Career and Technical Center on High Street. Those students could remain there for the next several years as school officials plan a rebuilding project.

The Bath-area Regional School Unit 1 was awarded $11.4 million in insurance payouts from Liberty Mutual for the damage the fire caused. Superintendent Patrick Manuel said part of that sum was paid to outside vendors and to renovate and outfit the temporary classrooms, leaving about $7 million for rebuilding the school.

The Maine Board of Education this month denied the school district’s request for emergency funding this year to rebuild the school, saying the state has almost exhausted its debt limit for other school construction projects. The district is expected to apply for state aid to rebuild the school when the board announces the next round of school construction projects eligible for state funding in 2025 or 2026.

Lawmakers are currently reviewing a bill that would increase the debt service limit for school construction projects by $100 million, possibly freeing up money for emergency funding for Dike Newell.

The Dike Newell School in Bath after a fire broke out June 10, 2022. Maria Skillings / The Times Record file photo

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