After arguing about finances, Rebecca Poulin allegedly told her husband that if she no longer could stay in their home, neither could he.

Now Poulin is accused of setting the fire that destroyed her family’s South China home on Sept. 18.

Poulin, who lived at the single-story house at 230 Lakeview Drive with her husband, Philip Poulin, was arrested Wednesday by the Office of State Fire Marshal after she was released from an undisclosed hospital.

Poulin, 65, is charged with a single count of arson, a felony crime. She was the sole person in the building at the time the fire was set intentionally in the living room using ordinary combustibles, according to fire officials.

The fire, reported at 11:28 a.m., was determined to be the culmination of a marital dispute over money, according to an affidavit filed in court by fire marshal investigator Kenneth MacMaster. When firefighters arrived at the home, they found Rebecca Poulin, who initially said she had been outside gardening when other people alerted her to the blaze.

But her husband, Philip Poulin, arrived shortly thereafter and was visibly upset, MacMaster wrote.


“I don’t want to talk to you. You’re responsible for this,” Philip Poulin reportedly told his wife.

Philip Poulin told investigators he had talked with his wife earlier in the morning on the phone and “confronted Rebecca about credit card debt.”

“Philip said out of frustration for an ongoing problem (credit card debt), he told Rebecca she would be out of the house tonight,” MacMaster wrote. “Philip believes that Rebecca is responsible for the fire.”

Meanwhile, investigators determined the blaze had started near a TV in the living room and no accidental causes could be found.

In fact, after the blaze had been doused, Rebecca Poulin allegedly admitted to investigators that she had started the flames. After she received the call from her husband over the credit card debt and the threat that she’d have to leave, Poulin said she “decided to burn the home and (was) suicidal,” according to MacMaster’s affidavit.

“Additionally, Rebecca said if she was going to be out of a home, Philip would be also,” MacMaster wrote. “Rebecca said she ignited a rolled up stocking on a propane cooking stove and threw the ignited stocking into the living room, in the area of the television.”


Five fire departments — all three in China and the Vassalboro and Winslow departments — were called to battle the flames, and some firefighters stayed for nearly six hours.

Poulin was seen by a judge Friday who advised her that the class A crime carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and would need to be presented to a grand jury if the state were to proceed. The hearing at the Capital Judicial Center was held via video from the Kennebec County jail, where the white-haired Poulin was represented by Aaron Rowden, acting as lawyer of the day.

The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General David Spencer, confirmed the affidavit’s allegation that the fire-setting occurred after Poulin and her husband argued over finances. He said Philip Poulin had told Rebecca to leave, saying, “This is enough,” after hearing from another credit card company about an overdue bill.

Officials at the time said one person — now revealed to be Rebecca Poulin — was taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation.

The house was a total loss, but the Poulins did have home insurance.

Philip Poulin has not been charged, according to Sgt. Joel Davis, of the fire marshal’s office. Firefighters were called to the same home in June when a fire started in the bathroom and caused minor damage. That incident is under investigation, Davis said.


Justice Donald Marden agreed to the state’s request for personal recognizance bail with a Maine Pretrial Services contract. Conditions of that bail prohibit Rebecca Poulin from being at the residence and at the property of Philip Poulin.

Her next hearing date is Nov. 21.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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