FREEPORT, Maine — Staring at the shell of his burned-out business on U.S. Route 1, Bob Miles put his arms around his mother early Tuesday morning and told her, “It’s just a building.”
He watched firefighters from six communities work for hours to extinguish the blaze Monday night. Tuesday morning, officials told him they suspected arson, said his son Robert Miles III.
Later Tuesday, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, announced that Investigator Daniel Young of the State Fire Marshal’s Office arrested a 21-year-old transient, Christopher Veysey, just before the suspect could board a bus in Portland headed for South Carolina.
Veysey is being charged with one count of arson and nine counts of burglary, McCausland said, and is also suspected of committing burglaries Monday in Guilford, about 100 miles away from Freeport.
A suspect likely “lit two or three of the cars on fire and broke windows in other cars,” Robert Miles III said on the scene Tuesday, pointing to blackened vehicles lining the rear of the building in Freeport and other nearby cars with smashed windows.
Bob Miles & Sons, at 1162 Route 1, offers plumbing, heating, carpentry and electrical services. The business, based in a five-year-old, 5,000-square-foot building, employs 13 people.
Firefighters from Freeport, Brunswick, Topsham, Yarmouth, Durham and Pownal responded to the blaze at 11 p.m. Monday. Yarmouth firefighters provided coverage at the Freeport fire station.
Freeport firefighter Steve Roy was on the first truck in and found three cars in the back fully involved and flames “up the back of the wall and making their way to the roof.”
“It took a little bit to get everything under control, but once we established a good water flow, we were all set,” he said. “By then it had run pretty much the length of the roof, though.”
Route 1 was closed from about 11:15 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to Sarah Cass, administrative assistant to Freeport Fire Chief Darrel Fournier.
Firefighters cleared the scene at approximately 4:45 a.m., Cass said, and trucks returned at approximately 8 a.m. after the blaze reignited.
Freeport police detectives arrived at the blaze early Tuesday morning, and Sgt. Joel Davis from the fire marshal’s office said an investigator from the fire marshal’s office was there by about 1 a.m.
Investigator Lt. Bob Young of the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday he thinks Veysey may have been involved in three seasonal camp burglaries that occurred on Sunday in Elliotsville.
“I can say that the guy that was arrested for arson is a suspect in the Elliotsville burglaries,” said Young.
Bangor Daily News reporters Seth Koenig and Alex Barber contributed to this story.
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