FARMINGTON — The Office of State Fire Marshal is seeking help from the public after investigators ruled a fire at the Falls General Store last week was set deliberately.

Members of the Fire Marshals Service and Farmington fire and police departments set up a checkpoint Tuesday night on Route 156 and Croswell Road in Farmington and distributed flyers seeking additional information to passing motorists.

“If anybody happened to be driving by that evening and saw something that they don’t think looked right, there are phone numbers they can call,” said Farmington fire Chief Terry Bell. “If anyone’s got any information, no matter how little it is, if they call it could be important.”

The fire at 176 Croswell St. was reported last Tuesday shortly before 11 p.m. When firefighters from Farmington, Chesterville, Jay, Industry and Temple responded to the call, they saw flames climbing the outside of the building, Bell said. It took the 34 firefighters about an hour and a half to extinguish the blaze.

No one was injured in the fire, but it did cause damage to the basement, store and an upstairs apartment in the Crosswell Street building, Bell said. The store’s owners, Daniel Searles and Lori Berry, who live above the store, were not home when the fire broke out.

Over the week, investigators collected evidence from the scene and ruled out all potential accidental causes before determining the fire was caused by arson, said Sgt. Joel Davis, of the fire marshal’s office.

Davis said investigators want to hear from “anybody that had been around the store that might have noticed anything out of the ordinary or people there that night. Things that didn’t look like they belong or any activity that they might have noticed.”

Anyone with information can call the fire marshal arson hotline at 888-870-6162. Other contacts include Franklin County Dispatch Center at 778-6140 for Farmington police, or Central Maine Regional Communications Center at 624-7076. Callers should refer tips or information to senior investigator Stewart Jacobs or investigators Kenneth G. MacMaster or Jeremy Damren, of the state fire marshal’s office.

Kate McCormick — 861-9218

[email protected]

Twitter: @KateRMcCormick

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