May 24, 2018
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2nd fire in LaGrange deemed arson

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

LAGRANGE, Maine — Two late-night fires were deliberately set in town this week, both occurring within a 24-hour period near the center of town, State Fire Marshal’s Office investigators said.

John Drake, who sits on the town’s Board of Appeals and owns rental properties in the area, owns both parcels.

The first fire was reported shortly after 11 p.m. Monday at 109 Mill St., a vacant 1½-story house just over the railroad tracks behind the country store. Fire investigators on Tuesday deemed the fire that destroyed the house an arson.

The second fire at an old, vacant farmhouse at 5842 Bennoch Road just down the street from the fire station was reported to the department at around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, LaGrange Fire Chief Roger Stanley said Wednesday.

“The fire in LaGrange last night is an arson,” Sgt. Tim York, lead investigator for the Fire Marshal’s Office, said Wednesday. “It’s under investigation, and we’re not going to release any details about how we came to that conclusion.”

The farmhouse had an attached barn with no electricity, Stanley said.

“The barn is completely gone and the house is still standing, but gutted,” the fire chief said. “It’s a total loss.”

Fire investigators were at the Bennoch Road fire Tuesday night and returned on Wednesday to continue their investigation.

Evidence that led investigators to believe the Mill Street fire was set was collected and sent to the state crime lab in Augusta, York said, adding, “We’ve collected evidence at the second fire” as well.

What type of evidence collected was not revealed, but York said that both fires still are under investigation. With both properties empty, no injuries were reported.

York said at least one fact links the two blazes: “Both properties have the same owner.”

John Drake’s wife, Rose, acknowledged on Wednesday that the family knew about the fires, but said by phone that John Drake was in bed sick with cancer. “He doesn’t feel like talking right now,” she said.


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