Lewiston police arrest 2 suspects in Monday's Bartlett Street fire

Submitted photos

Lewiston police arrested Brian Morin, left, and Bryan Wood on Friday in connection with the May 6 fires at Bartlett Street.

LEWISTON — Two downtown men were arrested Friday night and charged in the Monday-morning blaze that destroyed two buildings and damaged a third.

More coverage of the Lewiston fires:

Androscoggin County Jail

Bryan Wood

Androscoggin County Jail

Brian Morin

Bryan Wood, 23, of 131 Bartlett St. and transient Brian Morin, 29, were each charged with three counts of arson. Police said both men are known to the department and each has a criminal record.

Morin, a convicted sex offender, went on television news earlier in the week and insisted he had nothing to do with the latest fire. Morin has been living with Wood in recent days, police said. He was first questioned about the fire early Monday.

The Monday-morning blaze destroyed two vacant buildings on Bartlett Street and damaged a third apartment building on Horton Street. Police don't believe the fire was related to a pair of similar fires the week before.

At a Friday night news conference, Lewiston police Chief Michael Bussiere described an intense investigation that included several local, state and federal agencies. Maine Drug Enforcement agents have been working their sources all week, as have agents from the Central Maine Violent Crimes Task Force.

Lewiston police and the State Fire Marshal's Office were assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"We have some people who will blow your doors off when they're looking for someone," said Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas. "It's quite an operation."

Bussiere said the teams of investigators have been working pretty much around the clock — "all hands on deck," the chief said — since the first fire rattled the city. With the capture of Morin and Wood Friday night, each of the three fires has resulted in arrests. A pair of 12-year-olds were arrested in the earlier blazes.

"It's been very difficult," Bussiere said. "There have been a lot of expectations within the community. "As a result of these arrests, hopefully people can sleep a little easier tonight."

The chief said extra patrols would remain on the streets in hopes of preventing further chaos. In addition, city officials have secured roughly 20 vacant buildings since the fire investigations got under way.

The number of abandoned tenements reminds Thomas of Portland in the 1970s, when a series of fires swept through the city.

"It's cyclical," he said. "It's Lewiston's time. They have a lot of vacant buildings and they're easy targets."

Police did not discuss any possible motive Wood and Morin might have had for starting the fire. Although the MDEA was involved in the investigation, there wasn't necessarily a drug connection.

"They have their connections," Thomas said. "They know what's going on."

Wood has a criminal history of assault, reckless conduct and other charges. In early April, he was arrested  by Lewiston police on charges of obstructing government administration, refusing to submit to arrest or detention and violating a condition of release.

In 2002, Morin was convicted of unlawful sexual contact.

The blaze Monday night was started in the early morning, police said, while most tenants were sleeping. Firefighters responded after the 2:46 a.m. call and arrived to find the backs of three buildings — 114 Bartlett, 118 Bartlett and 91 Horton — in flames.

After they were arrested at about 7:30 p.m., Wood and Morin were taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn where they were being held without bail Friday night.

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Comments

Sharon Harrington's picture

Hope they go away for life

Known of one of the guys for years--he is not fit for society--they should have locked him up a long time ago.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

As is usually the case..........

As is usually the case in these types of crimes, we never hear much about the suspects after the initial arrest. I would really like to hear their motives in setting the fires. It just boggles the mind, what were these two expecting to accomplish? Children, I can almost understand, but two adults? With all thats been going on in the past couple of weeks? It's just beyond my ability to comprehend.

James Andrews's picture

Arson

We've been seeing way too much arson up here over the past several years. Lock them up and throw away the key! Did you all know, that the one scenario, in which a law abiding gun owner/property owner can actually shoot(and I mean shoot to kill), someone,who is not inside the premises of you r hme(I mean, outside), is an arsonsist? IIf you catch someone in the act of commiting arson, you can soot to kill. Keep that in mind.

TOM FOURNIER's picture

Wrong!

You'd better put a gun in their hand before calling police. You can never use deadly force merely to protect property. You can use deadly force only if you're confronted with deadly force that places you fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury to yourself or in defense of others.

Andrew Jones's picture

You're wrong

http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/17-A/title17-Asec104.html

2. A person in possession or control of premises or a person who is licensed or privileged to be thereon is justified in using deadly force upon another person when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes it necessary to prevent an attempt by the other person to commit arson.

Jake Paris's picture

the press conference

Where is the Press Conference archived? I'd like to see it.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

the sound on the live stream

the sound on the live stream is really really low

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