Camden boat fire leads to arson charge

Posted July 07, 2009, at 8:28 p.m.

CAMDEN, Maine — A Rockport man was charged with arson last weekend for setting a pleasure boat on fire in a Camden driveway.

Jacob Crawford, 25, apparently had been looking for a place to get out of the elements around 4 a.m. Saturday on Route 1 near the Camden Hills State Park when he came across a 24-foot motorboat wrapped in plastic and attached to a trailer, according to Camden Fire Chief Chris Farley. Crawford initially tried to cut the wrap with a pen knife, but that failed, Farley said.

“Apparently his next step was to try using a lighter to create an opening to crawl in and get some shelter,” the fire chief said.

The fire got out of control and destroyed the boat. Farley said he did not have information about the boat’s value.

A motorist reported the fire to Camden police Officer Brook Hartshorn, who found the boat in flames and Crawford in a car at the driveway.

Police said Crawford attempted to flee in the car, but then ran off into the woods.

“As [Hartshorn] was trying to evaluate the scene, the male disappeared,” said Camden Police Chief Phil Roberts.

A firefighter later saw Crawford, who smelled strongly of burning plastic, coming out of the woods, Roberts said.

Crawford was arrested at the scene and charged with arson, theft by unauthorized taking, criminal trespass and operating without a license as a habitual offender. He was taken to Knox County Jail in Rockland, where he remained Tuesday afternoon, according to jail officials.

The state fire marshal’s office had investigators at the fire site on Saturday, and officials interviewed Crawford in jail Saturday morning and again that afternoon, Farley said.

“He admitted to some participation,” Farley said.

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