ROCKLAND, Maine — When a boarding house manager told a resident on Tuesday he would have to move out by the next month, the resident tried to burn down the building, according to Rockland police.
Frederick Mank, 66, of Rockland was arrested Tuesday night and appeared in Rockland District Court on Wednesday on a Class B charge of attempted arson, which is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine. As of Wednesday afternoon, he remained in Knox County Jail unable to meet $50,000 bail.
According to a police report filed with Knox County Superior Court on Wednesday, Mank had been causing problems with some of the tenants in the 30-unit Brunswick House on Main Street for a few weeks.
Building manager Llewellyn Butler told police that Mank was “constantly drunk, loud and bothering other tenants” and was “constantly making verbal threats.”
Butler sat Mank down Tuesday to tell him he was welcome to stay for the rest of the month, but that he would have to move out after that, according to the police report.
“Butler told me that Mank said something to the effect that ‘he won’t have to worry about this place’ because it ‘would be gone,’” Detective Sgt. Christopher Young wrote in the report.
Around 9 p.m. Tuesday, tenant Robert Recos — who lives in the room next to Mank — was sitting in his room watching television when he smelled a strong odor of gasoline, according to the police report.
“He walked out of the back entrance-exit of the building and observed Mank putting a gas can on the ground by the back door,” Young wrote.
Recos reportedly asked Mank what he was doing, and Mank swore at him.
“Recos stated that it was obvious Mank was drunk,” Young wrote.
In a phone interview Wednesday afternoon, Recos said Mank was outside with the gasoline when he realized he had forgotten a lighter. That’s when Mank tried to get back in the house, allegedly to find something to ignite the gasoline.
“I punched him back through the door, shut the door and called the manager who set the fire alarm,” Recos said.
All 15 people in the building were evacuated.
When members of Rockland’s Police and Fire departments arrived at the three-story white house on Main Street, they found that gasoline had been poured along the north side of the building and on the house’s west-side wooden emergency exit stairs outside. Additionally, they found a gas can with a towel sticking out of it near propane tanks next to the building. A piece of rope ran from the gas can in a “fuselike manner along the liquid trail,” according to the police report.
According to Young, Recos startled Mank when he confronted him and may have bought some time for officials to arrive.
“It’s a combination of the resident immediately making the call and the quick response of Police and the Fire Department — that is the reason it didn’t go further,” Young said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Two Brunswick House tenants police spoke to said Mank had made threats to burn the place down before. He reportedly planned to flee to Vermont to see relatives.
Mank is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 24.