Rangeley woman indicted in arson case

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FARMINGTON — A Rangeley woman was indicted Wednesday on a felony charge of arson in connection with a fire that was intentionally set on March 7 that heavily damaged a garage/barn and attached house she and her estranged husband owned.

Kelly Bachelder, 46, was arrested on a charge of arson on March 24, weeks after the fire that state fire investigators determined was intentionally set at 40 Allen St. in Rangeley. The residence is primarily used to hold supplies, equipment and tools for Odie Bachelder’s plumbing business in Rangeley.

Lenny Sharon, Kelly Bachelder’s attorney, said Friday she denies the charge and plans to plead not guilty. He is waiting for discovery from the District Attorney’s Office and is conducting an investigation into the case on Bachelder’s behalf. 

Kelly denied setting the fire when asked by state fire investigator Edward Hastings IV, according to an affidavit he filed in March seeking an arrest warrant for her arrest.

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She and her husband, Odie, of Lang Township were going through a “bad divorce” at the time of the fire, Hastings wrote.

“The residence involved in this fire is a one-and-a-half story, wood frame structure with a covered porch and attached one-and-a-half story garage/barn,” Hastings wrote. The property is insured for $60,000 and the contents for $6,500, the affidavit states.

A witness said that Kelly was at the residence several times on March 7 before leaving for a final time around 4:45 p.m. The same witness reported the fire about 30 minutes later.

State fire investigators and an accelerant-detecting dog examined the property.

“The area of most damage was found to be within the garage/barn and consumed about 70 percent of that structure,” Hastings wrote.

Evidence suggests there were two separate fires in the kitchen area. Hastings said he was unable to associate them with a larger fire that consumed the garage/barn.

Both of the fires in the kitchen area appear to be located above the sink and on a shelf next to the doorway leading to the second floor, Hastings wrote.

“Both of these fires suggested ignition within ordinary combustibles and most likely self-extinguished,” he wrote.

The dog indicated that an ignitable liquid was present in the first floor, front room and near the door-jam leading from the main residence into the garage/barn, he said. The doorway between the house and garage/barn is a steel fire-rated door and was closed during the fire.

The dog indicated accelerant was also present on the stairway leading to the second floor.

“In this area, I discovered a fire trailer (a method to spread fire) made of plastic, curtains, and blankets placed in a line which extended up the stairs through the hallway into a bedroom on the second floor,” Hastings wrote. “Ms. Bachelder explained she attempted to turn on one light in the garage/barn area while at the house, but it didn’t come on. The area where this light is located didn’t sustain much damage within the garage/barn and therefore eliminates any possibility of electrical issues in the house.”

A sample of fire debris located within the hallway between the garage/barn and the house was analyzed and indicates a positive presence of heavy petroleum diastolic within this area, the affidavit states, which may include kerosene, diesel fuel, jet fuel and some lighter fluids.

Hastings stated that Kelly “has exhibited several indications, leading me to believe she is the person responsible for causing this fire.”

Kelly told a woman who called her to tell her the house was on fire and the first statement Bachelder made to her was “I didn’t do it,” the affidavit states.

“This statement is most crucial. In my experience as a fire investigator, and in speaking with numerous other fire investigators, this statement is inconsistent with the reaction of a typical house fire victim, and immediately suggest that Ms. Bachelder had knowledge the fire was intentionally set,” Hastings wrote.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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