AUGUSTA — A Clinton teenager is charged with arson after allegedly setting a fire in a pickup truck at Blanchard’s Towing in Clinton last month.

Brandon M. Dunton, 18, initially denied setting the fire, but later told investigators he was “upset because his bicycle was having mechanical troubles and that people he was doing odd jobs for were not paying him.”

That information was contained in an affidavit by Jeremy Damren, an investigator with the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Dunton made an initial appearance on the charge Monday via video between Kennebec County jail in Augusta and the Capital Judicial Center. Justice William Stokes told him that the Class A arson charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, $50,000 in fines and four years of probation.

Because there was no indictment, Dunton was not asked to enter a plea. He had been arrested on Friday and spent the weekend at the Kennebec County jail.

Dunton, who was represented Monday by Dennis Jones as lawyer of the day, stood quietly with his hands folded in front of him as the judge addressed him.

Stokes set bail at $500 cash and required Dunton to obtain Maine Pretrial Services supervision contract and prohibited him from having incendiary devices.

Both the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Alisa Ross, and Jones requested a competency evaluation for Dunton.

Stokes ordered one and said that he could add an evaluation for criminal responsibility later if that is needed.

The complaint says the offense occurred Feb. 13, 2018, on the property of Chris Blanchard, who owns Blanchard’s Towing at 935 Main St.

Damren’s affidavit says the Clinton Fire Department extinguished the fire in the 2001 Ford F250-pickup truck that Blanchard had purchased for $2,500 as a “parts/junk” truck.

Blanchard said he had removed the battery from the pickup in December 2017, so there was no electrical source to start a fire, Damren wrote.

Several people told investigators that Dunton had been in the area the day of the fire.

On March 6, 2018, Dunton told another fire marshal that “he was driving his bicycle from Clinton and decided to burn a truck to the rear of Blanchard’s,” Damren wrote.

Dunton said he knew it was a junk truck and that he snapped off lower branches of pine trees and found a container of used oil near the garage, placing both inside the pickup cab and dripping oil on the branches, according to the affidavit. Dunton said he used his lighter to start the fire, according to Damren.

Damren said the burnt truck smelled of gasoline even though it used diesel fuel.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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