USA — Fire officials are closing in on a person who may have started a forestland fire last week that burned about an acre near Pocomoonshine Mountain.
District Ranger Jeff Currier of the Maine Forest Service said Sunday that they have a fingerprint and other evidence taken from the scene.
“The [Washington County] Sheriffs Department is going to help us process that fingerprint and, hopefully, get a match somewhere,” he said.
Currier said the forest service was working with the Sheriffs Department because the fire may be related to another case they are investigating. The day before the fire there was a report that an individual had taken a vehicle from the Princeton area that did not belong to him, he said.
“We are trying to put two and two together to find out what happened,” Currier said.
Law enforcement officials are speculating that the person may have been hiding in the area where the fire started to avoid being caught. “Thats why I think it has some parallel to the Sheriffs Department case. If the Sheriffs Department was looking for somebody in that area, that person may have been kind of hunkered down waiting [for that] agency to go away,” he said.
Currier expects the two agencies will make more progress on the case today.
“We are hopeful we can pin this thing down and charge someone with fire violations,” he said.
The fire burned about an acre of a stand of mature softwood trees on the south side of the mountain on land owned by Wagner Forest Management of Bangor.
A pilot flying near the Princeton airport spotted the fire shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday. He contacted the Princeton airport, which in turn notified the forest service. Quick response by fire rangers and the Princeton Fire Department confined the fire to just the 1 acre.
The forest service reminds the public to be cautious about campfires and open burns in the dry conditions.
Currier said earlier that high temperatures, gusty winds and the lack of rain have been increasing the danger of fire each day. The fire danger in Hancock County and northern Washington County is classified now as high to very high.
Some communities and the forest service are limiting brush-burning permits until the area receives appreciable rainfall, according to Currier.
He said rangers will patrol areas and check fire permits, and the forest services air detection planes will be in the air.