Stetson man found guilty of setting fire to field, trying to reignite as fire crews fought flames

Posted May 20, 2012, at 12:42 p.m.

NEWPORT, Maine — A Stetson man charged after setting fire to his farm field and then trying to reignite the fire as firefighters were attempting to douse it was found guilty on May 18 in Newport District Court.

James Pimental of Wolfsboro Road was found guilty of burning without a permit and hindering a state forest ranger in connection the March incident. He was ordered to pay $150 fines on each charge, as well as $1,300 in restitution for the cost of the firefighter response.

The fire was reported shortly before noon on March 22 by a passer-by. Fire crews from Stetson and several outlying towns were called upon to extinguish it.

Bailey said the fire burned 3 acres of open field and was beginning to approach Pimental’s barn — which contained hay — and a nearby wooded area. He also said that no one was around to help Pimental had the fire gone out of control.

The hindering statute is not used often, forest service Lt. Jeff Currier said in March, estimating that people are charged with that crime perhaps two or three times a year. He said that the charge is the forest service’s equivalent to an obstruction of government administration charge police officers use.

“Most of the people we deal with are pretty good but there are a few bad apples out there,” Currier said, adding that sometimes rangers find themselves dealing with people who are uncooperative, intoxicated or unstable.

Dwayne Leighton, a Stetson fire warden, said it was unlikely that Pimental would have been issued a burn permit in the first place on the morning the fire due to dry and windy weather conditions.

BDN reporter Dawn Gagnon contributed to this report.

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