AUGUSTA — State investigators said Monday night a fire that damaged a tent at the Occupy Augusta encampment at Capitol Park was intentionally set.

The 8-foot-by-12-foot homemade A-frame tent was destroyed and fire investigators said the fire was intentional, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for Maine’s Department of Public Safety.

Battalion Chief David Groder of the Augusta Fire Department said earlier Monday that the fire damaged the tent structure, which was made of a wood frame, felt and straw.

“It’s a human-element fire in some way,” Groder said. “There’s no obvious cause.”

“Nobody’s been in there for over a week,” he said.

Capitol Police also responded to the fire.

The fire was reported shortly after 5 p.m. as about a half-dozen Occupy protesters were seen near State and Capitol streets.

“They saw (the fire) and came down and started putting water on it,” Groder said.

Small flames continued to burn when firefighters arrived. Crews were able to douse the remaining flames with pressurized water cans.

Occupy protester Ed Bonenfant said he was the first one to notice the fire as he walked along Capitol Street.

“I was walking up the road with coffee and I saw the A-frame on fire,” Bonenfant said.

 “I thought there were people back at camp, but there was no one here when I got here.”

Bonenfant said protesters tried to put out the fire using a supply of drinking water and a fire extinguisher that was on hand.

“Apparently we need more fire extinguishers,” Bonenfant said.

He declined to speculate how the fire might have started.

 “It looks like it started from the outside,” he said.


Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

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