Flames shoot from a residence that burned April 25 off East Pittston Road, also state Route 194, in Pittston. More than a dozen fire departments responded to contain the blaze that was reported at about 1:40 p.m. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

A Pittston woman has been charged with failing to extinguish a fire in connection with a massive blaze this past spring that started at a heavy equipment lay-down yard and consumed a three-story residence where she was living.

The two-alarm fire was reported April 25 and drew firefighters from 12 departments across central Maine to the property, near the intersection of Routes 27 and 194.

Sharon Nichols, 67, whose address is listed as 11 East Pittston Road, was issued a summons on May 10 for an outdoors burning violation by the Forest Protection division of the Maine Forest Service.

Officials initially refused to release the summons, arguing that the documentation constituted materials related to an ongoing investigation, despite repeated public records requests by the Kennebec Journal beginning June 24. The summons was only released on Friday, about a week after the newspaper’s lawyer, Sigmund Schutz, made a renewed request for the documentation under Maine’s Freedom of Access Act, writing that a summons issued by the Forrest Service is official enforcement action and a public document whether or not it has been filed with the court and regardless of whether criminal charges are pursued.

The release of the summons on Friday came the same day that the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office also filed a Class E misdemeanor charge of failing to extinguish a fire against Nichols.

The charging document against Nichols alleges she built “a camp, cooking or other fire or (used) an abandoned camp, cooking or other fire in or adjacent to any Maine woods, (and) did fail to totally extinguish the fire before leaving.”

The fast-moving, hot fire  destroyed Nichols’ residence at 11 East Pittston Road. A chief forest service ranger said at the time that the unidentified owner of the residence had admitted to burning prohibited materials in an outdoor wood stove along the outside of a garage and the burn got out of control.

After consuming the three-story residence, the fire spread across state Route 194, starting a blaze at one of the 25 buildings in the Tuthill antique village, which spans about 50 acres.

Nichols is scheduled for arraignment on the criminal charge Sept. 12.

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