PARIS — A Buckfield man charged with setting fire to his home Sunday told investigators he had ignited a basket of magazines next to his bed because he was feeling depressed, according to court files.

Clay Jacobs Oxford County Jail photo

Clay R. Jacobs, 46, was charged with arson, a felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

A judge set bail for Jacobs on Tuesday at $500 cash.

Fire Investigator Andrew Whitney of the Office of State Fire Marshal filed a sworn affidavit at Oxford County Superior Court in support of probable cause for the charge against Jacobs.

Whitney wrote that he was assigned to investigate the Sunday afternoon fire at a mobile home at 63 Depot Road in Buckfield.

Jacobs had admitted to using a match to ignite a fire in a basket of magazines that was located next to a bed in the home and had made “no effort to extinguish the fire,” Whitney wrote.


Whitney wrote that he spoke with Buckfield’s fire chief, who said Jacobs had been taken to Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway “for intoxication and smoke inhalation.”

The chief had received conflicting reports of how the fire started, including reports that suggested Jacobs had been cooking in the kitchen and ran with something that was on fire and one report that indicated he had been cooking in his bedroom when the fire happened, Whitney wrote.

The chief told Whitney that when he entered the bedroom “he saw fire across the carpet leading up to and on top of the bed.”

Local firefighters had responded to a call at that address several days before when Jacobs had burned belongings of his deceased father in the driveway, Whitney wrote.

An examination of the scene, coupled with witness statements and interviews suggests “the fire originated as a result of the intentional act of throwing a match into a bunch of nearby magazines placed next to the bed slightly to the left of the window,” Whitney wrote.

A next-door neighbor, who is a relative, told a fire investigator that Jacobs told her “I did something I shouldn’t have and the mattress is on fire,” Whitney wrote.


She called 911 and then handed the phone to Jacobs, Whitney wrote.

At the hospital, Jacobs told investigators he had been trying to “cook fries in a plastic bowl in his bedroom” with matches and accidentally set his curtains on fire, Whitney wrote.

When investigators questioned the truthfulness of that statement, Jacobs said he had been sitting on the side of his bed “feeling a little down and depressed, mostly over the loss of his father,” who had died about a year earlier, Whitney wrote.

Jacobs told them he “lit a match and threw it into a basket containing magazines,” Whitney wrote.

Jacobs said he threw the match in between the magazines and then “sat there and watched the fire grow. (Jacobs) explained he did not want to kill himself with the fire, however, he just did not care,” Whitney wrote.

Jacobs said he waited in the bedroom as the fire burned “until there was too much smoke and until it was too big for him to extinguish,” Whitney wrote.

At that point, Jacobs ran next door and told his neighbor, Whitney wrote.

Buckfield and several neighboring fire departments responded to the scene.

“This act recklessly endangered the lives of the firefighters” and others in the community, Whitney wrote.

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