THOMASTON —A local man was arrested Sunday, June 19, accused of setting a fire that heavily damaged a house in Thomaston.

Larry W. Winchenbach, 40, who is listed in court papers as being from Rockport but also as a transient, was arrested and charged with one count of Class A arson for the June 15 fire at a house owned by Daniel Ford on Water Street.

Winchenbach made his initial appearance Tuesday afternoon June 21 in the Knox County court where Judge John Martin agreed to the prosecution’s request to set bail at $100,000 cash. His next scheduled court appearance is Aug. 11.

Larry W. Winchenbach Photo courtesy of Knox County Jail

Crews from around the region battled the house fire last Wednesday afternoon, June 15, in what the chief said were difficult conditions.

“They did an excellent job in difficult conditions,” Thomaston Fire Chief Mikial Mazzeo said Wednesday night. “The only reason the house is still standing is because of their work.”

The fire was reported shortly after 1 p.m. at 59 Water St. Smoke was pouring out of the eaves of the house when the fire was reported.

The house was suppose to be unoccupied, Police Chief Tim Hoppe said at the scene. The property had been owned by the Robert Lawson estate but the affidavit said Ford bought it at auction. The town has the assessment on the building at slightly more than $36,000.

The Maine Fire Marshal’s Office was called in to investigate the blaze.

An affidavit filed in the Knox County court by the Office of the State Fire Marshal stated fires were set in two separate locations — on top of mattresses on the first and second floor.

In addition, all the entrances to the house had been blocked by stacked up bins and bags of trash.

The house had been bought at auction and there had been no electricity in the building for a couple years, according to the affidavit.

One witness told police he saw a man, later identified as Winchenbach, walking near the scene and kept looking over toward Water Street. The man appeared intoxicated and kept looking back toward Water Street until fire trucks could be heard responding to the fire.

Another witness said Winchenbach told her he set the fire. No reason was given for him setting the fire.

The property is not insured, according to the affidavit.

There were no injuries. There was considerable interior damage to the house, however. The chief said the interior walls and the roof will have to be replaced.

Crews from Thomaston, Warren, Rockland, South Thomaston, Cushing, St. George, Camden, Rockport, Waldoboro, and Friendship joined in the firefighting effort and backing up departments. Chief Mazzeo said with the warm weather and interior firefighting, the extra personnel was essential to stopping the fire.

Bottled water was requested for the firefighters with temperatures in the mid-70s. Knox County Emergency Management Agency brought the water.

Photo by Stephen Betts

Photo by Stephen Betts

Photo by Stephen Betts