WATERVILLE — Two brush fires that ignited Thursday in Pine Grove and St. Francis cemeteries, off Grove street in the city’s South End, may have been set, a Fire Department official said.

“We’re looking at possibly someone setting these two fires,” said fire Capt. Rodney Alderman, who was at the scene. “We’ll give the fire marshal a courtesy call to see if they’re going to do anything about it. We have a person of interest.”

The fires were extinguished quickly and police were scouring the area, looking for the person who may have set them.

The first fire, at the south end of Pine Grove Cemetery, was reported at 12:57 p.m. A grounds crew from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department working in the cemetery saw smoke, hurried toward it, discovered a burning pile of leaves and brush and called the Fire Department. Firefighters arrived quickly and put the fire out.

Later, at 1:47 p.m., another fire was reported about 300 yards away in the south end of the adjacent St. Francis Catholic Cemetery. Two parks and recreation workers saw the fire, hooked up a hose from their truck to a nearby faucet and put that fire out before firefighters arrived, according to Alderman.

The material burned at St. Francis was a pile of brush about 20 feet by 10 feet in size. The brush apparently had been dumped illegally in the cemetery, according to cemetery director Mike Hebert, who was on vacation Thursday but was called to the scene by his employee, groundskeeper Sean Lawrence.


Lawrence said he was in the St. Francis office, about a quarter-mile from the fire scene, when someone visiting the cemetery told him there was a fire at the cemetery’s south end, abutting the woods. Lawrence called the Fire Department. Waterville police Officer Steve Brame arrived at the cemetery, looking for whoever might have started the fires.

Hebert said people often dump brush and other debris in the cemetery in the evenings and on weekends.

Later Thursday, parks and recreation employees Frank Waterman, Colby Ryder and Scott Fletcher were doing grounds work at Pine Grove Cemetery. They said that when Waterman saw smoke coming from the first fire, they investigated, found the fire and Ryder called the Fire Department.

“As dry as it’s been, I couldn’t believe it didn’t spread quicker,” Fletcher said. “Quite the afternoon.”

Deputy Chief William Bonney, of the Waterville Police Department, said police were investigating the case, but he did not have an update on their progress late Thursday afternoon.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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