Tenant charged with arson in Norway boarding house fire


NORWAY — A man was charged with arson Monday morning in a fire that ripped through a Main Street boarding house and left about a dozen people homeless.

Todd Fickett, 19, was arrested early Monday morning and faces one count of arson, although more charges may pending as the investigation continues, police said.

Norway Fire Department Assistant Chief Jim Tibbetts said none of the residents living at 467 Main St. were hurt in the fire, but two firefighters received minor injuries at the scene.

Fickett lived in the front of the building on the first floor. According to the Maine Department of Public Safety, he was taken into custody at the Norway Fire Station by State Fire Marshal investigators at about 5 a.m.

Fickett is being held at the Oxford County Jail, according to a release from the Maine Department of Public Safety. He initially told investigators he was Travis Fickett, his older brother, and investigators waited to release his name until they were sure of his identity.

Sgt. Joel Davis of the Fire Marshal’s Office said that as the investigation continues, Fickett could face more charges.

“More charges are probably pending, but nothing yet,” Davis said. Fickett’s bail was set at $50,000 cash.

Davis said Fickett was arrested after officers spoke with others on the scene. Davis said the fire began in Fickett’s first-floor apartment and quickly spread to the rest of the building.

Daniel Young of the Fire Marshal’s Office walked the scene Monday afternoon with a dog trained to find ignitable fluids. Davis said any evidence would be forwarded to the Maine Department of Public Safety crime lab.

Davis said investigators were “still working out the details” on the arson suspect’s motives.

Residents who lived at the boarding house said Fickett had only been there a week and went by the name Travis.

Ron Ryder said he might have slept through the fire if another resident hadn’t been awake playing video games before seeing smoke. Ryder said the resident ran door to door waking up other residents.

The call came in at 1:41 a.m. Tibbetts said it was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. The building was destroyed and Ari’s Pizza and Subs next door sustained minor damage to the top floor, but firefighters stopped the flames from spreading there.

Tibbetts said there was some water damage in the restaurant, which was closed all day Monday. Residents of the apartments above Ari’s had to flee their homes Monday morning.

Trudy Stanley of Poland, who was visiting friends across the street from the scene, called in the fire Monday morning. Stanley said she heard smoke detectors ringing across the street and saw smoke billowing from the front of the building.

Stanley said building residents worked hard to evacuate the building and ensure one another’s safety. “If they’d been in there three minutes longer, they would have gone,” she said.

She credited the Fire Department with stopping the fire from spreading to the adjacent block, and said there was fear the fire could cause four propane cylinders next door on the side of Ari’s Pizza and Subs to explode.

“Norway could have gone up in flames, but it didn’t,” he said.

Two firefighters were injured at the scene, Tibbetts said. One suffered exhaustion and the other was hit in the head by debris from the building. Both were transported to Stephens Memorial Hospital and released shortly after.

According to Tibbetts, Norway firefighters were assisted by departments from Paris, Oxford, Waterford, West Paris, Poland, Harrison and Mechanic Falls.

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