Saturday, August 04, 2007
Domestic Terrorism. "Things got thrown out of whack".
Two charged with arson after string of fires
By NANCY FOSTER
New Hampshire Union Leader Correspondent
MILFORD – Two men were arrested and charged with arson after early morning fires gutted one home and left a string of smaller fires burning across the west end of town.
Just after midnight yesterday, firefighters responded to a house engulfed in flames at 56 Union St. As crews from Milford and several surrounding communities worked to douse the two-alarm blaze, reports of other fires along the west end of town started coming in at 1:15 a.m., starting with a Dumpster behind Advance Auto Parts at 222 Elm St.
"Things got thrown out of whack," said Fire Chief Frank Fraitzl. "As we were calling in trucks from other towns to send to calls, more calls kept coming in."
As emergency crews from as far away as Bedford surveyed the neighborhood, two more Dumpsters were found ablaze and reports were received of fires being set along the railroad tracks behind Elm Street. No one was injured in the fires.
Once the fires were out, the investigation continued, and within hours police arrested Robert J. Bunce, 20, of 11 Old Brookline Road, #4, in Milford and Deric M. Larouche, 24, of 624 Darling Hill Road in Greenville. Each man was charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit arson, five counts of arson, and one count each of burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary. Arson is a Class A felony that can result in 7 to 15 years in prison, according to Police Chief Fred Douglas.
Although the two men were arraigned in Nashua District Court yesterday afternoon, the cases will be moved to Hillsborough County Superior Court due to the felony charges, Douglas said. In addition to the charges related to the fires, the men have also been charged with burglary after police say they found a number of items that were reported missing from at least one home.
"I know who the items belong to," Douglas said, refusing to elaborate.
Douglas declined to say how the fires were started, or whether drugs or alcohol were involved in the alleged arson spree.
He said the Union Street house was the first fire to be set.
Homeowner George Ryan, on scene yesterday morning, said the house was undergoing repairs from a fire that ripped through the front part of the house on June 27.
Ryan was staying on South Street during the renovations, and a neighbor woke him to tell him the his house was on fire.
This is the third fire in his home in 20 years, and the second one this year.
A large excavator was brought in to remove the roof and the top floor of the house because of safety concerns, Fraitzl said.
"They say it's structurally unsafe," Ryan said. "They won't let anybody go in there. It's a total loss," Fraitzl said.