AUGUSTA — A South China man has been arrested and charged with arson in last week’s fire that destroyed his mobile home at 220 Western Ridge Road.

Jason Woods, 37, was taken into protective custody by police at the scene because of reports he was acting irrationally and was verbally and physically abusive to firefighters.

An affidavit by Kenneth MacMaster, a state fire investigator, says Woods told a neighbor he had set the fire, saying, “I can’t believe I burned the house.”

After hearing that, the neighbor walked toward Woods’ home and saw fire along one side of the home and the front porch and called 911 to report it.

He also told MacMaster that Woods was ranting and attempting to re-enter the home and that he had been throwing household items into the road for the past few days.

Woods was taken from the scene to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta for a mental health evaluation and then taken to Kennebec County jail on Wednesday.

At Woods’ initial appearance Friday in Kennebec County Superior Court via video from the jail, he was ordered held in lieu of $50,000 bail. Conditions of bail ban him from use and possession of incendiary devices. The judge also ordered a forensic evaluation of Woods and indicated he could be transferred to Riverview Psychiatric Center, the state hospital that handles individuals facing criminal charges as well as civil patients. The charge of arson says Woods intentionally started the blaze and that his actions recklessly endangered firefighters. It carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

South China Fire Chief Richard Morse said the department’s firefighters as well as those from China, Weeks Mills and Palermo departments were called out about 9:30 p.m. April 11.

“It was pretty well involved when we got there,” Morse said on Friday.

Firefighters were at the scene until about midnight, and Morse said there were no injuries. He said the home was destroyed.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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