Saturday, March 15, 2014
A 13-year-old Augusta girl is facing charges in connection with a fire that started inside a Cony middle school bathroom.
That case comes just days after a 13-year-old Vassalboro girl made her first court appearance on charges of starting fire inside a Vassalboro Community School bathroom.
The Augusta girl, whose name was withheld because of her age, was charged with arson and criminal mischief, said Augusta Police Lt. Kevin Lully.
Meanwhile, the identity of the Vassalboro teen has been disclosed in court records as Ashley Nelson. Her identity had been kept confidential until she was arraigned March 13 in Waterville District Court.
Maine law allows juveniles accused of felony crimes to be identified in public court records when prosecutors file a petition with the court.
Nelson has denied the felony charge of arson stemming from the Nov. 21 fire at the community school. She was released into the custody of her parents, according to the court petition.
Dates of scheduled appearances for both cases were unavailable.
Nelson's attorney at the arraignment, David Geller, was out of state Wednesday and unavailable for comment.
An Augusta police report indicates that the 13-year-old Cony student attempted to ignite items placed inside a bathroom toilet.
The incident was reported around 11 a.m. Monday and police charged the girl later that day. She was carrying a lighter when confronted by officers, Lully said.
Augusta firefighters were not called. Damage from the fire was limited to the toilet seat, Lully said.
The fire allegedly set by Nelson on Nov. 21 at the Vassalboro school caused much more of a disruption.
No one was hurt in the fire, which was reported in an upstairs girls' bathroom shortly before 1 p.m., but the fire forced the evacuation of about 500 students. The Webber Pond Road school serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
After evacuating, the students boarded buses to keep warm and were able to return to the building after about a half-hour, Alternative Organizational Structure 92 Superintendent Eric Haley said at the time. Smoke and water damage was confined to the bathroom, Haley said.
Investigators quickly determined the fire, which started on a plastic toilet paper dispenser, was intentionally set. Four fire investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office spent two days at the school investigation the blaze. Nelson was charged the day after the fire.
Firefighters responded from Vassalboro, Winslow, China and Chelsea, and the fire was still burning in the bathroom when they got there. The fire was quickly extinguished.