August 21, 2018
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Former Maine fire chief faces sentencing for arson Wednesday

Cumberland County Sheriff's Office | BDN
Cumberland County Sheriff's Office | BDN
Former Old Orchard Beach Fire Chief Ricky Plummer
By Liz Gotthelf, Journal Tribune

The former Old Orchard Beach fire chief who has plead guilty of setting a fire to a large area of marsh land is slated to be sentenced on Wednesday.

Ricky Plummer is scheduled to appear in York County Superior Court at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Plummer, 61, pleaded guilty in October to 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. Authorities reported flames were as high as 30 feet and came as close to 100 feet to a nearby condominium complex.

[Mass. town had raised red flags about fire chief charged with arson]

The area at the time was on a fire weather watch by the National Weather Service due to dry temperatures and high winds.

Plummer was quoted on the day of the fire as saying, “The winds were unbelievable. The fire was going past us like a freight train.”

Investigators watched surveillance footage from a nearby hotel which 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.

Plummer was interviewed by Maine Forest Ranger Matthew Bennett on the day of his arrest. Plummer told 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, according to an affidavit by Bennett.

[Maine fire chief charged with arson resigns]

Plummer told Bennett he threw used matches on the ground, and then threw the cigarette in the area of chest-high cattails. Plummer told the forest ranger he walked out of the marsh and woods area, unaware that a fire had started.

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.

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