Upton-Hastings arson investigation on-going

Posted on October 15, 2012 in News
By Kirsten Sylvain

It has been five weeks since the fire at Upton-Hastings Hall, but the investigation is still underway.

For many students living in Upton-Hastings Hall, their first weekend this semester was certainly eventful. On Monday, Sept. 3 at 2:37 a.m., a sprinkler was set off in a recycling closet on the third floor. A forced evacuation of 200 students followed. The fire was quickly extinguished by the sprinkler, but the trigger of the sprinkler system led to more damage by water than by smoke or fire. The exact cost of the damage has not yet been released.

The day after the fire, the Fire Marshal’s investigator on the ground in Gorham released to USM Public Affairs that they could say with certainty that the fire had been intentionally set, but no suspect’s name has yet been released.

“Everybody wants to make sure we find the person or persons responsible for this crime,” said Bob Caswell, director of USM Public Affairs in a statement to The Free Press. “I am not going to confirm or deny any reports or rumors associated with the case. To my knowledge there have been no charges filed or arrests made.”

“Any student who faces a criminal charge like arson would face a whole range of sanctions from the university, up to and including expulsion,” said Caswell in an interview with the Portland Press Herald on Monday following the incident.

Craig Hutchinson, the chief student affairs officer, told The Free Press back in September that the fact that the fire was set is of great concern, but despite this concern, the investigation continues.

All requests to Public Safety and the Office of State Fire Marshal to review records have been denied on the basis that the investigation is still on-going.