EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — A fire that destroyed a Beech Street house earlier this week was set intentionally, Fire Chief Les Brown said Thursday.
Inspector Ed Archer of the State Fire Marshal’s Office ruled the fire at 28 Beech St. arson for several reasons, Brown said, including that it appeared to start inside an enclosed front porch near no obvious ignition points.
The home had electricity but was unoccupied at the time, Brown said, and the fire destroyed the house very quickly, indicating the possible use of flammable liquids to ignite it.
Reported by a neighbor at 4:26 a.m. Tuesday, the fire spread so fast that when firefighters arrived at the house, it was already too late for them to do anything more than protect adjacent dwellings, Brown said.
“When we got there five minutes after the call, it was completely engulfed,” Brown said Thursday of the house. “When we got there, you could not tell how it [the fire] traveled. The porch was gone when we got there. We could not even get inside the place.”
The flames started in the porch and traveled into the second floor and roof of the two-story house, Brown said. Siding on an adjacent house was melting when firefighters arrived. Firefighters doused two adjacent dwellings to keep them from catching fire.
Fifteen town firefighters fought the blaze. No one was injured.
The homeowner, Christy McLaughlin, was nowhere near the house when the fire occurred, Brown said. Brown said he didn’t believe the house was insured, but wasn’t certain.
Archer and other investigators visited the house Wednesday before making their ruling, Brown said.
Archer and other state officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment Wednesday and Thursday.