RUMFORD – A Rumford man charged with setting fire to his third-floor apartment in the historic Hotel Harris on Feb. 17 remained behind bars Wednesday in Paris.

Unable to post $15,000 cash bail, Jason M. Fortier, 27, will likely have to wait in the Oxford County Jail for his initial court appearance until next week when a judge is available, according to an assistant clerk at Oxford County Superior Court.

Otherwise, Fortier, who is charged with felony arson and felony aggravated criminal mischief, would not be arraigned until the next Oxford County grand jury meets in April.

On Feb. 20, after being released from the Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, Fortier was arrested by Westbrook police on a warrant from investigating Rumford police Detective Lt. Daniel Garbarini.

Fortier was incarcerated in Cumberland County Jail in Portland until he was picked up Tuesday by Oxford County Jail officials and taken to Paris to await an initial court appearance, according to Oxford County Jail officer Charlene Hoyt.

According to a Feb. 17 affidavit by Garbarini, the detective interviewed Fortier while Fortier was a patient at Rumford Hospital.

Fortier, Garbarini said, claimed he was attacked, which, after the interview, the police determined never happened.

“Fortier told me that he started the fire in his apartment with his Zippo lighter and Rosenol lighter fluid,” Garbarini said. “Fortier told me that he had planned to kill himself in the fire when he squirted the fluid onto the mattress and lit it on fire.”

However, Garbarini said Fortier then left the burning apartment without telling anyone, placing about 30 other tenants in danger, and walked to Rumford Hospital seeking treatment for hearing voices in his head.

The fire in Fortier’s room activated the sprinkler system, which extinguished the fire before it could ignite other rooms, according to hotel and Rumford fire officials. No one was injured but Garbarini estimated water and fire damage to Fortier’s room and rooms below his at $15,000.

Because Fortier admitted himself into Rumford Hospital prior to Garbarini’s investigation and was later transferred to Westbrook mental facility, he wasn’t arrested on the arson and aggravated criminal mischief charges, the detective said.



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