AUBURN — A Lewiston man accused of setting fires in a Lisbon Street apartment is expected to appear in court today on related charges.

Christopher Violette, 32, of 333 Lisbon St. was indicted this week by an Androscoggin County grand jury on two arson charges, each punishable by up to 30 years in prison. He also was charged with aggravated criminal mischief, a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Violette was arrested after a March 12 fire that investigators say started in his Lisbon Street apartment and left more than 15 people homeless.

Violette told police he’d been “planning on throwing himself into the fire but decided against it,” according to a police affidavit.

Firefighters had found smoke and flames coming from the second floor when they responded to the apartment building at 8:08 p.m. Sunday, March 12.

The building was evacuated and residents were taken to a police station to stay warm. More than 15 people lived in the building and 11 were home when the fire broke out, a police detective wrote in an affidavit.

Violette was the only person not accounted for. He later approached a police officer and said he’d caused the fire, according to the affidavit.

After being read his rights at the station, “Violette admitted to taking the battery out of the room’s smoke detector,” then setting fire to a pile of clothes and trash in his closet and setting another fire in his trash can, the detective wrote.

Violette gave police the lighter he’d used.

Damage was contained to the second and third floors. Police called the damage “severe.”

A spokesman for the American Red Cross said the nonprofit helped 17 individuals — 15 single people and one two-person family — with lodging and other immediate needs.

A judge has ordered a mental examination of Violette to determine whether he is competent to proceed to trial and whether he suffered from insanity or an abnormal condition of mind at the time of the incident.

A judge set bail at $25,000 cash.

[email protected]

Christopher Violette


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