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2 charged in Lewiston fires held on $350,000 bail

May 13, 2013

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — A judge on Monday set bail at $350,000 apiece for two men accused of setting a fire that burned down two apartment buildings because they were fed up of dilapidated and abandoned housing. Two boys accused of setting other apartment house fires were ordered detained, as well.

Prosecutors asked for bail of $250,000 each for Bryan Wood, 23, and Brian Morin, 29, but the judge increased it by $100,000 because of the seriousness of the fire.

“We are fortunate that no one was killed or seriously injured,” District Judge John Beliveau said Monday.

All told, three fires destroyed nine buildings and displaced more than 180 residents, putting downtown Lewiston on edge and raising a discussion about its aging housing stock.

One of the burned apartment houses was condemned. The two buildings destroyed by the fire authorities say was caused by Wood and Morin on May 6 were under renovation at the time.

Assistant District Attorney Neil McLean said that Morin said he was “sick and tired” of abandoned buildings and referred to himself as the “lookout.” Both men were arrested Friday and were charged with arson.

Attorney Steven Carey, representing Wood, said his client suffered from a mild mental disability and his competency was in question in another proceeding. Attorney Richard Charest, representing Morin, argued his client posed no danger to the public.

Two 12-year-old boys were charged previously in the other fires. The judge on Monday ordered them detained in the juvenile system in separate proceedings.

Gov. Paul LePage announced he was providing $50,000 from his contingency account to the Lewiston Fire Relief Fund to help victims of the fires.

The Legislature previously approved $30,000 for fire victims. More than $176,000 has been raised.

“In times of need like this, we see Mainers pull together to make a difference and it truly is heartwarming,” LePage said. “While we can’t give the victims back what they had, we can help rebuild their lives as they move forward.”

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