Ricky Plummer, the former Old Orchard Beach fire chief who is accused of setting a wildfire that destroyed acres of marshland in April, pleaded not guilty Thursday to a two-count arson indictment.

Plummer, who was present in York County Superior Court in Alfred, said nothing during the brief hearing. His attorney, William Bly, entered the not guilty pleas on Plummer’s behalf.

He is charged with arson, a Class A felony, and failure to report or control a dangerous fire, a misdemeanor. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the arson charge.

Following the arraignment, Bly declined to comment, and the two hustled outside into the rain to avoid reporters. Plummer is due back in court Dec. 8 for a dispositional conference.

The April 15 brush fire that Plummer is accused of setting destroyed 43 acres of marshland in Old Orchard Beach and more than 100 firefighters responded to bring it under control. Plummer, as fire chief, coordinated the fire response that day.

The flames, driven by swirling winds, threatened several buildings, but ultimately no property was destroyed and no one was injured.


Plummer admitted to investigators that he started the fire, but denied doing so intentionally, saying he discarded a cigarette butt in dry, chest-high marsh grass, according to court records.

But fire investigators found no evidence of a discarded cigarette or smoking materials in the area where the wildfire began, and no one close to Plummer could confirm ever seeing him smoke before – he even told investigators that he doesn’t like smoking, doesn’t like the taste and does not inhale.

Because the fire occurred on state-owned property, the Maine Forest Service was the primary investigative agency, working for weeks after the blaze to determine the cause. The fire was determined to have originated in the marsh behind 164 East Grand Ave., where a footpath connects to a smaller game trail leading into the marsh and the area where the fire began.

According to investigators, on the afternoon of the fire, Plummer told dispatch at 2:21 p.m. that he was headed to 221 East Grand Ave. to perform a building inspection.

But security footage recorded at the Friendship Oceanside Suites on East Grand Avenue showed Plummer’s marked fire chief vehicle parked a few minutes later behind a vacant building at 164 East Grand Ave., nearly a mile south of the address where he said he would be, and about a four-minute walk from where the fire began.

In the video footage, which is described in a court affidavit, Plummer crossed the train tracks and disappeared from view for roughly 25 minutes, the period when investigators say he set the fire.


During that time, Plummer even radioed dispatch to say his inspection was complete.

One minute after he returned to his vehicle at 2:53 p.m., someone called 911 to report the wildfire, according to the affidavit.

Investigators said that Plummer also lied about his whereabouts during the early moments of the emergency response, and withheld information from investigators.

Plummer had been a firefighter since 1974.

He served as the fire chief in Old Orchard Beach since 2014 and earned an annual salary of $70,500.


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