Police called after firefighters quell suspicious blaze

Tourist, firefighters suspect fire was set intentionally
By Ethan Andrews | Sep 25, 2017
Photo by: Ethan Andrews A man leans on the bank near Footbridge Road Sept. 25 as firefighters spray smoldering leaves several yards to his right.

Belfast — A man in dirty clothes reclined impassively in the woods between Footbridge Road and Belfast Harbor Monday morning, Sept. 25, as firefighters extinguished flames on the bank several yards away.

Asked if by a reporter if he knew how the fire started, the man stared back silently and appeared to be annoyed by the question.

Firefighters arrived at the scene in response to a 911 call from Cathy Baschmann, who first spotted the fire. Baschmann, a visitor from the Finger Lakes region of New York, said she was making a phone call at the east end of the footbridge when she saw a "gross, skinny guy" emerge from the wooded area with a bag of cans and bottles.

"He got on a bicycle and took off," she said.

Soon after, she saw smoke coming from the woods. When she approached to determine where it was coming from, another man, believed to be the one later seen reclining on the bank, yelled obscenities at her and told her not to call 911. Baschmann ignored him and placed the call.

"I was concerned," she said. "You don't want somebody dying in there."

Firefighters arrived soon after and quickly put out the fire. Fire Chief Jim Richards said he wasn't sure how it started, but he suspected it may have been set intentionally. He noted that the man in the woods had matches, and said the police were on their way.

In separate conversations, both Richards and Baschmann described the man who remained behind as not acting rationally, possibly because he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

As of Sept. 26, Belfast Police had not charged anyone in relation to the fire.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.