The house at 43 Mill St. in Brunswick was in rough shape before it was torched the night before Halloween. Now it’s a genuine dump.
The smell of wet, charred wood lingers around the back of the building, where the blaze was concentrated. Blackened roof beams can be seen through the frames of the smoke-stained, second-story windows. The yard is littered with fire-damaged household items.
According to local news reports, the fire was deliberately set by a 17-year-old from Brunswick who now faces an arson charge. The boy was arrested after a friend of the property owner’s daughter matched graffiti inside the house with photos from the boy’s MySpace page. Owner Lynn Dolan said neither she nor her daughter knew the boy.Five other teens face lesser charges, like trespassing and criminal mischief, The Forecaster reported. A detective said the unoccupied home had been a frequent hang-out spot for the teens. “I think they just decided to burn the place,” Det. Bill Moir told the paper.
Dolan said she last stayed at the house this past July, before she moved to Florida. Her family had occupied the home since 1974, she said.
Neighbors described the house as “quiet,” and none could recall the last time they saw someone there. “I thought it was abandoned,” said a resident of Oak Street who’s lived behind the property for four years.
The number and variety of things removed from the house after the fire indicate that though it had been unoccupied for several months, it was still fully furnished. Burnt tables, chairs, a mattress and clothing are strewn in the backyard. A box of seashells sits by the back door next to a set of drinking glasses, a watering can and, eerily, a VHS tape of The Blair Witch Project. “It is by no means a vacant building,” said Dolan, who added that she intended to come back to Brunswick this summer for a visit.
Brunswick code-enforcement officer Jeffery Hutchinson said the house was in “decaying shape” before the fire and has now been condemned. “It needs to be torn down,” he said. “It wouldn’t be worth the effort to repair it.” Dolan now has “a couple of months” to demolish it, Hutchinson added.
Dolan said the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) had expressed interest in buying the house, which was valued for tax purposes at $47,700 before the blaze. According to spokesman Mark Latti, MDOT has been acquiring properties along Mill Street (also known as Route 1) since the 1960s in an effort to improve traffic flow by reducing driveway access. He said it “remains to be seen” whether this dump will be purchased and demolished.
— Emily Guerin