NEWBURGH, Maine — Chapman Road resident Linda Cameron-Davis was just getting into bed Thursday night, when her dog began to bark and alerted her that there was a problem.
“I could see the flames before I even got to the door,” she said. “I ran out in my pajamas with a fire extinguisher.”
Cameron-Davis’ mailbox was set on fire just before midnight, and before she extinguished it, 20-foot flames shot towards the sky. As word spread about their mailbox fire, Linda and her husband, John, learned that several of their neighbors have suffered from the same act of vandalism.
At least five mailboxes have been burned recently, but Thursday’s fire was the first time that Newburgh Volunteer Fire Department was called, Fire Chief Glen Williamson said on Friday morning.
The suspect or suspects “seem to be picking out plastic mailboxes on the Chapman Road and setting them on fire,” he said. “A lot of people had it happen and didn’t say anything” to local fire officials. “They’re not passing the information along,” he said.
Others called the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and some reported the fires to Maine State Police. Williamson said he wants anyone whose mailbox was burned recently to give him a call.
“Somebody needs to stop,” he said of the arsonist or arsonists. “They’re flirting with disaster.”
The fact that the suspect or suspects seem to be “stepping it up a little bit, makes me a little bit more nervous,” the chief said. “They’re taking off and leaving these things burning and … it wouldn’t take that much for one of those fires to spread.”
Tampering with the U.S. mail is a federal offense, Williamson said, adding he believes all of the fires are connected.
“It seems to be a little too much of a coincidence to be separate instances,” he said.
Fire investigators found the remnants of some food containers in the half-burned mailbox owned by the Cameron-Davis family, but have not ruled out use of accelerants or Molotov cocktails in that or the other reported mailbox fires, Williamson said.
Plastic mailboxes have been targeted because they burn better than ones made from metal, the fire chief said.
Cameron-Davis said she learned that three of her neighbors have had their mailbox burned this week.
“With three in a week, it’s become more than a prank,” she said. “It’s become dangerous.”
About 200-feet from her mailbox is the couple’s barn, which is home to eight miniature show horses and a large horse.
“As dry as things are right now, this is dangerous,” Cameron-Davis said. “We have a brand new garage and a barn full of horses. My little guys are defenseless. This is very scary.”
Those who have had a recent mailbox fire, or who have information about who is setting the fires, are asked to call Fire Chief Glen Williamson at 234-2599.