PARIS — A former volunteer firefighter with the Greenwood Fire Department pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two charges of arson.

Jeffrey A. Tyler, 28, of Paris Road in Bethel appeared in the Oxford County Superior Court before Justice Robert Clifford. Tyler is free on a $5,000 unsecured bond and must abide by the conditions of a pretrial contract.

Tyler is accused of destroying two vacant residences in the village of Locke Mills early on the morning of Nov. 17. The blaze began at the rear of an attached barn at 238 Main St. and spread to the neighboring property at 236 Main St. due to heat and wind-blown embers. The estimated damage to the buildings and their contents totaled approximately $500,000.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal investigated Tyler due to his quick response to the fire station after the fire was reported. Tyler told investigators that he had recently learned that his wife and 2-year-old daughter did not intend to Maine after visiting family in Florida, and he took a walk to the house at 238 Main St. He said he held three leaves together, ignited them, and dropped them as a symbolic gesture to represent himself, his wife and his daughter, and “the two that landed together or nearest his daughter’s leaf would be where his daughter should be,” according to a report by state fire investigator Daniel L. Young.

Tyler said the leaves set fire to other dry leaves on the ground, and a 6- to 8-foot section under the attached barn was burning when he left. He said he returned home without reporting the fire, but later went driving on Route 26 and responded to the fire station after hearing about the blaze on his scanner.

Tyler had been a member of the Fire Department for about two months before the fires. He denied being under the influence of drugs or alcohol or setting the fire so he could respond to it.

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