The Department of Public Safety has confirmed that the Jan. 12 fire that destroyed a camp in Long Pond Township was intentionally set and have charged Mark J. Walston Jr. with the crime, according to an affidavit filed in Somerset County court.

Walston, 50, of Pittsfield was originally charged with theft by unauthorized use of property, criminal trespassing and theft of services after allegedly stealing a vehicle in Madison on Jan. 11 and later trespassing in a Jackman hotel Jan. 12. The next day, a burglary and arson charge were added.

The affidavit filed at Somerset County courthouse confirms the arson charge and states that Walston may not return to the Northland Motel. He is being held at the Somerset County Jail on $5,000 bail and is expected in court March 8.

Several requests for information from the Maine Office of State Fire Marshal following the incident went unanswered until Tuesday, when the Department of Public Safety’s spokesperson confirmed details in an email.

“On (Jan. 13) investigators from the Fire Marshal’s office charged 50-year-old Mark Walston with arson, burglary and theft,” spokesperson Katherine England said. “The charges were filed as a result of a camp fire reported on January 12 on Ledge Drive in Long Pond Township in Somerset County. Walston was taken to the Somerset County Jail.”

Somerset County Chief Deputy Michael Mitchell provided details of the case in a phone call last week. According to him, Deputy Racean Wood responded to the report of a stolen vehicle Jan. 11 around 7:15 a.m. on Lakewood Road in Madison.

The owner of the 2013 Toyota Camry reported stolen said that there was a loaded firearm in the vehicle, stored out of sight. The report said that the owner was warming up the car in the driveway. When the owner returned to the driveway, the car was gone.

The stolen vehicle report was shared among other agencies. Within a few hours, U.S. Border Patrol agents spotted the vehicle at Trailside One Stop, a convenience store and gas station on Main Street in Jackman.

“Agents found a vehicle matching the description and while they were running the plates, the individual driving the vehicle got in it and left,” Mitchell said.

The operator of the vehicle was later identified as Walston.

The vehicle was heading southbound on U.S. Route 201 in Jackman, but the agents did not have an exact idea where the vehicle was going. The vehicle was found on an unplowed road in Parlin Pond, about 20 minutes south of Jackman. Fresh tracks were found in the snow. Agents tried to stop and identify the driver, who was not cooperating.

When Somerset County Sheriff’s officers and Maine State Police arrived at the scene to assist, the suspect left the vehicle and took off into the woods on foot, dropping a crossbow along the way. After pursuing the suspect for about an hour, officers lost him.

The vehicle was recovered with the firearm in the same place it was left.

A day after this incident, a structure fire was reported at a camp on Long Pond near Jackman at noontime. Several crews, including Jackman-Moose River Fire and Rescue, West Forks Volunteer Fire Department, Rockwood Fire & Rescue, U.S. Border Patrol, Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and the Maine Fire Marshal’s office responded to the blaze.

At the time of the fire, Deputy Brian Crater was interviewing a witness who said that a man fitting Walston’s description was first seen near the site of the fire and then heading into Jackman. Bill Jarvis, fire chief at Jackman-Moose River’s department, said that the camp sits on an unplowed road and appeared to have been broken into, with fresh footprints in the snow leading to and from the property.

The cause and details about the fire were not known, but the fire chief said that the property was a total loss. Crews were at the scene until around 3:30 p.m. Moments after Crater’s conversation with a witness, dispatchers received a 911 call about a person trespassing at a nearby Jackman hotel.

Border Patrol Agents along with Crater searched rooms in a vacant section of the Northland Motel and found Walston inside one of the rooms. He was arrested without incident.

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