LEWISTON, Maine — A 12-year-old boy was charged Saturday with setting a fire late Friday that destroyed three apartment buildings, leaving 105 people homeless and doing an estimated $1 million in damage, state police said.
The boy was charged with four counts of arson. He is in custody at the Long Creek Youth Development Center pending his first court date on Monday or Tuesday, state police said.
The Friday fire was reported about 10:30 p.m. in a vacant garage adjacent to a condemned apartment on Pierce Street and quickly spread. Within minutes, the apartment house itself was burning and flames were jumping to nearby tenements, including a building on Pierce Street.
“People came running out and they just scattered,” said Scott Vachon, who lives near the burning buildings. “People were screaming, ‘fire, fire!’ Mothers were screaming for their children. Other people were just shouting and crying. It was terrible.”
The arrest was the second in two days of a 12-year-old boy charged with arson in connection with a devastating fire in Lewiston. Lewiston police charged another 12-year-old with arson on Thursday in connection with a fire that destroyed more property earlier in the week.
Lewiston police said no connection appears to link the two 12-year-olds, but that more youths might face arrest as the investigations continue.
“That is what we were looking into,” Lewiston Police Michael Bussiere said in a Saturday press conference. “We think there were other children who at least witnessed the incident. Did they encourage him to do it?”
The Sun Journal contributed to this report.