AUGUSTA — Scared. But not scared out of occupying.

So say Occupy Augusta participants, following a tent fire Monday night at their Capitol Park encampment that authorities later said was intentionally set.

Even as they await a federal court decision determining whether they can remain at the park without a permit, protesters who were at the site Tuesday morning vowed the fire would not scare them away.

Matthew Ramsden, of Hallowell, who has occupied the park as part of an ongoing national protest for about two months, said the fire will strengthen participants’ resolve to stay there.

“The fire, if anything, motivates me even more to stay down here,” Ramsden said Tuesday morning while eating a cup of homemade chicken stew a supporter had brought in a large pot. “It’s a solidarity-type thing. And we want to be here to help out, to help patrol the camp. It’s like having your neighbor’s house burned down, in my eyes.”

Earlier Monday, Judge Nancy Torreson said during a federal district court hearing in Bangor that she expected to decide within 48 hours whether to issue an injunction to prevent Capitol Police from evicting the Occupy Augusta encampment from the park, which is owned and managed by the state.

Maine Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland said Tuesday that the fire marshal’s office is actively investigating the fire, which has been ruled arson.

While there was enough left of the tent to determine the Monday night fire had been set intentionally, investigators have little evidence to examine, McCausland said.

“There’s not an awful lot of physical evidence to work with,” McCausland said. “We’ve found no one that actually saw anyone during that time period.”

The tent structure was unoccupied, although someone had been staying inside it at least a week ago, officials said.

Moss Stancampiano, of Gardiner, who has occupied Capitol Park for about a month, said the people living in the tent had left the encampment. The burned homemade 8-foot-by-12-foot A-frame tent was near other Occupy Augusta tents, some of which do have people staying in them.

“There is no reason to get that violent,” Ramsden said. “For all they knew, there could have been somebody in there sleeping.”

Stancampiano said he was protesting Monday with other occupiers on the corner of State and Capitol streets, near the Blaine House, when he heard people yelling and saw flames in the park.

The fire destroyed the tent, which was fashioned from a wood frame covered in felt-like material, surrounded by hay, and covered by a tarp. The fire was reported shortly after 5 p.m.

Stancampiano said between eight and 10 people slept overnight at the park Monday, which was fewer in comparison than a typical night. He said some protesters likely didn’t stay in camp Monday night because they were frightened.

“It was a big fire, where you live; it’s going to scare some people,” he said.

Stancampiano said he was not concerned for his own well-being but was concerned for the well-being of his fellow occupiers. “Absolutely — they’re my friends now,” Stancampiano said.

McCausland said the Monday night fire will not affect how Capitol Police monitor the park. Officers conduct a walk-through of the encampment at least once a day and protesters have said they’ve maintained a cordial relationship with police.

“They’ve had close supervision of the camp site from the very beginning,” McCausland said.

McCausland said it was too soon to tell if Monday’s fire indicates there is an increased security risk to protesters or the public.

“We don’t know until we determine who is responsible,” McCausland said.

Ramsden said there were more people awake during the wee hours of the morning after the fire than normal, ensuring the encampment was safe from any other potential risks.

“I feel relatively safe here,” he said. “This is a group of people who watch out for each other.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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