22-year-old Paul Wasson sits behind bars after allegedly committing arson on NMCC’s campus over the weekend. It was around 2:30 Saturday morning that NMCC officials got word of a fire in the Penobscot residence hall.
Bill Egeler, Dean of Students at NMCC says, “at that point in time all of our emergency protocols went into place, we had a very fast and rapid response by the Presque Isle Fire Department, who came here and took care of the situation almost immediately.”
The fire started in a bedroom in suite number eight on the second floor. By the time the Presque Isle Fire Department got to the scene – the students that were in the building had already been evacuated – and the fire had been put out by the sprinkler in the room.
Egeler says, “I’m thrilled with the response that the staff and all of the safety protocols that took place here minimized damage minimized any sort of injuries and we were actually able to have students return to those facilities that very night.”
Fire Marshal investigators say it was the fast-acting sprinkler that stopped the fire from spreading. The Presque Isle Fire Department says this is a reminder of why colleges and universities need to have good policies and procedures in place for when these emergencies happen.
Rich Wark, Deputy Chief of the Presque Isle Fire Department says, “if we had not had sprinklers in that room, the damage would have been significantly worse. The fire damage would have been to the room, water damage would have been more from our hoses, from putting the fire out, so sprinkler systems, even though they get a bad rap, people say oh there’s a lot of water damage..there really isn’t.”
Fire Marshal investigators used the college’s security cameras and witness information to gather enough evidence to arrest Wasson on Sunday night. He was taken to the Aroostook County Jail. Wasson is not a student at NMCC – he was visiting a friend late Friday night. He was arraigned Monday morning. Meanwhile at NMCC, Egeler says he thinks students are now more conscious of how important fire safety and being prepared really is.
The district attorney’s office says this morning Wasson’s bail was set at 50-thousand dollars surety or 2500 dollars in cash, with conditions that he not possess drugs or alcohol and he must submit to random search and testing. He can’t possess any incendiary devices and can’t be on NMCC property. He has a status conference date set for February.