AUGUSTA — Investigators from the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office have determined the large fire at the Northeast Packaging Company storage facility on Rice Street, in Presque Isle to be arson.
The fire destroyed a bag warehouse owned by Northeast Packaging Co., a large, metal facility where paper and plastic bags are stored.
The fire which occurred at approximately 21:58 on Nov. 13, destroyed the approximately 150’ x 300’ metal structure and its contents, according to the fire marshal’s office. Firefighters from six communities were on the scene of the major fire for more than 13 hours.
A joint investigation by the Presque Isle Fire Department, Presque Isle Police Department, an Evidence Recovery Technician from the Maine State Police and the State Fire Marshal’s Office led to the arrest midday Sunday of Timothy MacFarline, 23 years old of Easton.
Senior Investigator Tim Lowell of the State Fire Marshal’s Office made the arrest after the collection of evidence from the scene and witnesses statements. MacFarline was taken to the Presque Isle Police Department for booking and was later transported to the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton. Lowell attrib-uted the success of the investigation to the cooperative efforts of all agencies involved, but he is not re-leasing specific details as the investigation is still ongoing.
Presque Isle Deputy Fire Chief Rich Wark said this weekend that the fire was difficult to fight in that it “had a very large fire load. There were rolls of paper and plastic and barrels of ink and alcohol solvent inside the warehouse.”
Wark said the fire was reported just before 10 p.m. Friday. When firefighters arrived moments later, fire was visible throughout the rear of the building and was starting to burn through the roof.
“We were definitely in defense mode,” Wark said. Firefighters were forced to fight the blaze from out-side. Key to the attack was the department’s ladder gun with an elevated stream.
“The barrels with the alcohol were what concerned us the most,” Wark said. By venting the roof and concentrating on those barrels, Wark said the fire was kept away from them.
Wark said the warehouse, which measured 150 feet by 300 feet, was destroyed.
Firefighters were still on the scene at noon Saturday, using an excavator to remove rolls of paper that were on fire. “The metal roof collapsed on top of the rolls, and the excavator is pulling them apart so we can extinguish them,” Wark said.
Two investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Tim York and Tim Lowell, were at the scene Saturday, attempting to determine the fire’s cause.
Wark said at least 50 firefighters from Caribou, Mapleton, Mars Hill, Presque Isle, and the Aroostook Fire Protection District (Fort Fairfield and Limestone) fought the blaze. There were no injuries