Boys get probation for setting massive Sanford mill fire

Sanford fire (Joshua Sawyer)

SANFORD (WGME) -- Two young boys admitted Thursday they were the ones who set a former Sanford mill on fire.

In June, the flames poured from the roof and windows into the Sanford skyline.

More than 150 first responders battled the blaze.

On Thursday, the children learned their fate for setting the arson.

One of the boys’ lawyers says prosecutors agreed to drop felony arson charges against the three juvenile boys who started the Sanford mill fire.

Defense attorneys say it came down to three things, the boys age, their intent, and their remorse.

“They're lucky, because nobody did get killed,” Mark Croteau, lives near the mill, said.

News that the three juveniles only got probation for setting the Stenton Trust Mill fire spread almost as quickly as the fire itself.

"These boys meant to start a fire, but they didn't mean to burn a building down, and they tried to put the fire out,” Lisa Chmelecki, defense attorney, said. "The fire grew quickly, putting their own lives in danger and the lives of all the rescue personnel that responded."

She says two of the three boys admitted to a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge and got a one-year probation. As for the felony arson charge, she says it will likely be dismissed in three months.

"He had remorse from the very start, even though this was a mistake and never anything that he anticipated,” Chmelecki said.

Both attorneys say their clients have undergone counseling, a house arrest and have stayed out of trouble.

"This was truly an accident. And I can say unequivocally that he has learned from this immediately and has taken every step that the state has asked him to do, every step that his parents have asked him to do,” Cory McKenna, defense attorney, said.

"I think it's a little easy. They probably should have at least got some town service or something,” Eric Letourneau, Sanford resident, said.

"What are you going to do? You going to hang these kids out for one terrible thing. I mean maybe these kids might turn their lives around,” Croteau said.

The District Attorney's Office says the arson charges have not been dropped and will be taken up in January, but defense lawyers say if the boys stay on the right path, that's when they will be dropped.

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