BINGHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Investigators with the State Fire Marshal's Office have ruled two fires discovered a couple hours apart in Bingham were indeed arson.
Fire fighters were called to a small ice cream shop on Maine Street just after nine Saturday night. After working to extinguish the blaze and starting to head home, fire crews were redirected to the town's public works garage just a few blocks away.
The two fires in quick succession raised suspicions almost immediately and fire marshals were called in to investigate. Investigators spent Saturday night, Sunday in to Monday sifting through the rubble before determining they were deliberately set.
"Both fires are arson, and we believe they are related," stated fire marshal Sgt. Joel Davis. "We've found enough similarities in the two scenes that we are pretty confident these were done by the same person or persons."
The first fire gutted the Here's the Scoop Ice Cream shop. The second fire badly damaged the town's public works garage and much of the equipment stored inside.
"It wasn't pretty but it was functional," said Scott Steward, Bignham's First Selectman. "You know it did the trick and it was what we needed, and that is going to be missed until we can get it replaced with something, and we will."
Steward met with the town's insurance adjuster on Monday morning, and was still trying to determine exactly what had been damaged. Plows belonging to the town's snow removal contractor were among the heavy equipment damaged.
Steward estimated the loss to the town of between $300,000 and $500,000 and said most every piece of machinery or tool the town owned was lost.
"That is very disconcerting in itself, you know, for what reason? We have no idea. I am at a loss," said Steward. "Why would anybody ever do that?"
He says the town will find a way to make things work while they wait to get their equipment replaced, adding that rumors and fear were spreading through town because of the arson.
"There is a lot of fear, when you have got somebody that is doing this, I mean it is going to put everybody on edge a little bit," he said.
Steward is hopeful that other towns will hear about their loss and provide some relief, either donating surplus tools and gear or loaning the town vehicles to help them get by until they can get back on their feet.