A Springvale man who was accused of setting a fire that displaced eight people in Sanford last summer has pleaded guilty.
Johnathan Cox, 25, was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison with all but five suspended on the charge of arson, a Class A felony, at York County Superior Court in Alfred, according to Sanford police Detective Sgt. Matthew Jones. Cox will also serve four years of probation after his release from the Maine State Prison in Warren.
Cox, who is currently out on bail, was ordered to report to the prison by 8 p.m. Monday, Jones said.
Cox and Lonnie McMahon, 23, were arrested in Berwick on July 23, 2019, in connection with an early morning fire on July 6 at 26 Montreal St. in Sanford that quickly spread from the single-family residence to neighboring 24 Montreal St., a two-unit apartment building.
The three residents of 26 Montreal St. and the five residents of 24 Montreal St. were all accounted for.
None of the residents of either address was injured, and several nearby homes were evacuated while firefighters from Sanford and surrounding towns battled the blaze.
Surveillance video from a nearby residence showed two unidentified individuals, one of whom appeared to be smoking, near 26 Montreal St. about 4:17 a.m., and another video showed two individuals running from the area moments later at 4:22 a.m. Firefighters responded to the scene about 4:26 a.m.
Cox reportedly went to the scene of the fire with an acquaintance and said he started the fire by “pouring gasoline on the bottom or base of the house and lighting it on fire,” according to the Journal Tribune, citing an affidavit from a Maine fire marshal’s office investigator.
Cox reportedly told the acquaintance that the fire was in retaliation for McMahon having been allegedly stabbed in the face and to “kill” the occupants, the Tribune reported last summer.