Details about 13 fires over the past two years could emerge today when Carol Field, the 65-year-old woman from Standish who is charged with setting a string of fires, appears in York County Superior Court to face two arson charges.

Field has a relatively minor criminal record, including three convictions for shoplifting groceries. In the most recent case, she was accused of stealing $17.87 worth of items in November from a Hannaford supermarket in South Portland, including three boxes of cannolis and a six-pack of chocolate milk.

“Based on my experience, she’s always come across as a sweet older lady with a tremendous amount of difficulties in life,” said her attorney, J.P. DeGrinney. “She has some very serious health issues, so she’s been struggling with a number of issues.”

He did not elaborate.

DeGrinney said he will argue for lower bail when Field appears in court today. She is being held on $100,000 bail.

DeGrinney said he will seek concurrent bail, so while Field faces charges in York and Cumberland counties, today’s bail hearing will cover both venues.


“The fact is, she has no prior history of violence of any kind that I’m aware of, no prior history of threats to the public in any way, no prior history of not appearing in court. I think there’s a lot she can say in her behalf in a bail hearing,” he said.

Field was arrested Friday after a witness to one of the fires last month gave police a vehicle description and a partial license plate number.

Investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office interviewed Field at length and concluded that she is responsible for a total of 15 fires in southern Maine. Most of the fires were in vacant buildings or wooded areas, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Authorities charged Field with setting fire to the Raymond Hill Baptist Church in July and setting fires in September at a vacant house in Limerick and outside Plummers Hardware in Waterboro.

“It was behind in the field, where the propane tanks are,” said Jerry Grady, who works at the hardware store. “One of the neighbors saw it and called the Fire Department. I guess one of them thought she looked suspicious and got a plate number.”

Grady said nobody recognized Field as having any connection with the business or anyone who works there.


On Monday, police could not explain Field’s alleged behavior or any factor that ties together the string of fires across Cumberland and York counties.

“Many times I’ve been asked to try to rationalize an irrational act,” said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety. “I do not have an explanation as to why.”

Investigators use risk assessment tools with young fire setters to determine whether their behavior is curiosity, a cry for help or a pathological issue, said Assistant Fire Marshal Joe Thomas. The questionnaires aren’t designed for older fire setters, but Thomas said it would be helpful to understand the motivation in this case.

“This isn’t just something that develops instantaneously,” he said. “When you find some behaviors like this, there usually are some histories involved in it.”

So far, authorities have not identified any fire-setting episodes in Field’s past.

No members of Field’s family could be reached for comment Monday.


Her son, Roy Field, is listed as living at the same address on Standish Glen in Standish; but calls to the telephone numbers associated with him and with the address were not returned. Telephone numbers listed for her siblings have been disconnected.

Carol Field sought protection orders against her son in August 2009 and August 2011. Both lapsed after a week, when she failed to appear in court for hearings on permanent orders.

Field has been convicted of shoplifting at grocery stores in Gorham, South Portland and Portsmouth, N.H. She also was charged with possession of the painkiller Vicodin in 2009.

In March, she was charged with violating bail conditions and furnishing alcohol to a minor and was fined $400 for each offense.

The loss prevention officer for Hannaford in South Portland said in court papers that he saw Field stealing in November and had caught her earlier that month. She said she didn’t remember and told him she had to leave to get her pills, then drove off. Police found her at a nearby hotel with the stolen items in her purse.

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