Former Old Orchard Beach Fire Chief Ricky Plummer pleaded guilty to a Class A felony arson charge at York County Superior Court in October. Plummer is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 9 and could spent two years in prison if the court accepts a plea agreement worked out between Plummer’s attorney and York County prosecutors.
Plummer, 61, of Biddeford, admitted he was guilty starting a fire that spread over more than 40 acres of marsh grass and woods north of Walnut Street in Old Orchard Beach while he was the town’s fire chief on April 15, 2016.
About 100 firefighters from Old Orchard Beach and several surrounding communities worked about two hours to extinguish the fire. Residents from a nearby condominium complex were asked to evacuate their homes for a short period during the fire.
Surveillance footage from a hotel near the scene of the fire showed Plummer and his work vehicle near the area of the fire’s origin on April 15 shortly before the fire was reported.
Plummer was charged with arson on May 7, 2016.
In an interview the day of his arrest, Plummer told Maine Forest Ranger Matthew Bennett that he had walked out into the woods and marsh area on April 15 to get some “peace” and smoke a cigarette he had taken from his wife.
Plummer told the forest ranger he threw used matches on the ground, and then threw the cigarette in the area of chest-high cattails. Plummer said he walked out of the marsh and woods area, unaware that a fire had started, according to a report from Bennett.
He told Bennett he was not a frequent smoker, and no one would be able to verify this habit. No cigarette butts or smoking material were found at the origin of the fire, according to Bennett.
Plummer was put on administration leave after his arrest and resigned from the position May 15, 2016.
Plummer is not allowed to set foot in Old Orchard Beach, as part of his bail conditions.
Plummer had worked for several fire departments prior to beginning his position in Old Orchard Beach in September, 2014. Plummer worked for the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Fire Department for more than 20 years, and also did stints in North Yarmouth, Biddeford, Gray and Standish in Maine; Marlborough, Massachusetts; and Cocoa, Florida.
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