AUBURN, Maine — Two Lewiston men were formally charged Wednesday with starting a fire that burned through three buildings at the tail-end of an April-May arson spree.
Bryan Wood, 23, of 131 Bartlett St. and Brian Morin, 30, of 35 Jefferson St., were indicted by a grand jury on three counts each of arson.
The men are accused of starting a May 6 fire that destroyed two apartment buildings on Bartlett Street and damaged a third on Horton Street.
Investigators caught up with Morin and Wood less than a week after the fire that rattled the nerves of a community already shaken by a pair of earlier arson fires on April 29 and May 3.
According to a police affidavit, Morin said he and Wood stood on a street corner and talked about setting the buildings on fire. He said he and Wood walked to the rear of the building and, “Wood pulled from his coat pocket a can of Butane lighter fluid that Morin recognized as similar to the one he was missing from his bedroom closet.”
Morin said Wood stood on the back porch of the building and sprayed the lighter fluid onto something that was black. Wood lit the lighter fluid, then went to the second building, Morin said.
Morin said he took a cushion from a couch at the rear of the second building and put it on the deck at the stairs that led to the ground. He said Wood sprayed lighter fluid on the cushion and lit it using a black Butane lighter that belonged to Wood’s girlfriend. Morin said Wood threw a second cushion on the first one.
The two then left.
Wood told his girlfriend that Morin had set the fire; she told police. She said Wood had been with Morin shortly before the fire started, then noticed it from his apartment window at 131 Bartlett St. shortly after he returned home.
Wood told a fire investigator that he saw Morin coming out of the side entrance to 114 Bartlett St. “right before the fire started.”
A witness told police that he looked out of his window after hearing “crackling and popping noises” and saw flames and smoke appear to come from 114 Bartlett St., according to the affidavit. He said he thought he smelled kerosene coming from outside. About 15 to 20 minutes before the fire, he saw a man fitting Wood’s description riding a bike in circles on Bartlett Street.
Both suspects have remained at the Androscoggin County Jail since they were arrested. They will later make an appearance in court to answer the charges.