Delusional man set Christmas fire, officials say

Posted Dec. 28, 2010, at 6:18 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — The man who died in a fire Christmas morning on Day Road was delusional and ignited the blaze himself, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Tuesday.

“He set it himself in the bedroom and he died of smoke inhalation,” McCausland said. “He had been having delusions throughout the night and had woken up the other residents as recently as 5 o’clock. The fire was discovered at around 5:30 a.m.”

Arthur Hatch, 64, used paper products to set the blaze Saturday morning in a bedroom he rented in the house at 403 Day Road. His body was found on the floor of that room, McCausland has said.

An autopsy was performed Tuesday on Hatch. A state medical examiner’s office spokeswoman said it determined that he died of “inhalation of products of combustion and thermal injury.” That means the smoke and injuries from the fire he set killed him.

The fire also injured three others in the house, including Soadia Gusha, who owns the house and remained at Eastern Maine Medical Center on Tuesday. She was treated for smoke inhalation and was listed in fair condition Tuesday evening, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Gusha’s sister, Noufissa Bernikhow, 41, and a second tenant, Yahya Daghmoumi, 38, also were treated for minor fire-related injuries at EMMC. Brewer fire Lt. Mike Mullen entered Gusha’s bedroom through a window and pulled her out of the burning house, Assistant Fire Chief Chris Dore said Monday.Firefighter Kevin Thibodeau, paramedic Ed Morsehead and Brewer police Cpl. Nelson Feero were outside Gusha’s window and helped save the 51-year-old woman.

The last fatal fire in Brewer happened on Grove Street nearly a decade ago on March 2, 2001, when improperly discarded smoking materials caught a couch on fire and claimed the life of a 70-year-old woman, Dore said.

In other fire-related news, State Fire Marshal’s Office investigators have determined the cause of a fire on Center Street in Bangor last week.

Sgt. Tim York of the fire marshal’s office said Tuesday that combustibles placed too close to a lamp caught fire and burned an apartment building at 240 Center St., displacing 11 residents.

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