VASSALBORO — A man found not responsible for setting his house on fire nearly 12 years ago because he was mentally ill was evaluated by medical personnel Wednesday morning after authorities responded to an intentionally set fire at a house he owns on Mudget Hill Road.

The fire damaged part of the house late Wednesday morning, and the Office of the State Fire Marshal confirmed it was arson.

The Vassalboro property is owned by Scott John Audet, 42, who was charged in 2003 with arson in connection with a home he owned at the time in Oakland. In 2004, Audet was found criminally not responsible for the March 2003 arson blaze.

Audet, who had closed on the purchase of the Vassalboro house five weeks ago, was the only person at the home at the time the fire broke out Wednesday morning. No charges have been filed in connection with the fire. Sgt. Ken Grimes of the fire marshal’s office would not say whether Audet is considered a suspect in the case, citing an ongoing investigation.

At the scene, Vassalboro Fire Chief Eric Rowe would only say the fire had been set by someone inside the house.

Sgt. Blaine Bronson of the Maine State Police said state troopers were sent to the house after receiving a report from an employee at Riverview Psychiatric Center, the state-run psychiatric hospital for the mentally ill in Augusta. A resident of the house had called the hospital and said he had set his bed on fire, Bronson said.

Grimes said the fire originated in the kitchen and an upstairs bedroom. He would not comment on the cause of the fire or how it was started, but confirmed it had been set.

Audet has a history of treatment at the psychiatric center. After being found criminally not responsible in March 2004 on charges that he set fire to a home he owned at 146 Oak St. in Oakland, he was committed to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to court records.

The court retained jurisdiction of the case, which was last heard in 2011, when a judge ruled that he could be allowed to self-administer medication and could drive anywhere in Maine, but was prohibited from having drugs, alcohol, firearms or weapons.

The court also required that an outpatient treatment team from Riverview visit Audet two times a week for at least six months after he moved to his own apartment.

Audet sold the Oakland property in April 2004, registry records show, a month after the finding that he was not criminally responsible for that fire. He returned to Riverview for a series of brief hospitalizations in the summer of 2013 and moved back into the community each time. There was no indication in the court’s file that he had been hospitalized at Riverview during 2014.

Wednesday’s fire was reported to the Vassalboro Fire Department at around 11:30 a.m. Audet bought and moved into the house at 250 Mudget Hill Road last month, according to records at the Kennebec Registry of Deeds. Registry filings indicate that the sale closed on Dec. 19 and that the home was bought with a $228,000 mortgage guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A week after the closing on the sale of the Vassalboro property, Susan Fasulo, a mental health caseworker for the Riverview Psychiatric Center Outpatient Services team in Augusta, filed a letter with Kennebec County Court stating that Audet “bought and moved into his own home.”

Derrick Dyer, a neighbor who was snowblowing his grandmother’s driveway across the street at the time of the fire Wednesday, said he heard screaming and saw black smoke coming from the house. He said he didn’t know who lived there, but said the house was recently built.

The house was badly damaged and will not be livable, Grimes said. Firefighters from China and Winslow also responded to the fire. There were no injuries reported.

Staff writers Michael Shepherd and Betty Adams contributed to this story.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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