Teen held after attempt to burn Peterbourough apartment
"I live there and I lit the apartment fire," Devon W. Tatro of Peterborough allegedly told fire investigator Keith Rodenhiser according to his arrest affidavit.
Tatro was arraigned on charges of arson and reckless conduct Tuesday morning in the 8th Circuit Court District Division in Jaffrey following a Peterborough police and New Hampshire State Fire Marshal's Office investigation of a blaze reported Monday around 5 p.m. at the Rockbrook Apartments, 475 Union Street.
He was arrested at the scene of the fire Monday night and taken to the Hillsborough County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail. In court Tuesday morning his bail was held and he was returned to the jail. He is expected back in court Tuesday, Nov. 27, for a probable cause hearing on the charges.
Firefighters responded to the multi-unit two-story apartment building Rockbrook Apartments at 5:12 p.m. for a report of smoke in the building.
Rodenhiser, a Fire Marshal Office investigator and Peterborough Fire Department Deputy Chief, was one of the first responders on the scene, he said in Tatro's arrest affidavit on file at the 8th circuit Court in Jaffrey.
Rodenhiser observed smoke coming from an apartment and soon ordered forced entry into the apartment when no one answered and heavy smoke was seen inside through a window.
The fire was located in a bathroom and was under control within half an hour.
Firefighters initially told Rodenhiser they thought the fire had started in the ceiling exhaust fan in the bathroom.
When Rodenhiser entered to examine the fan, he noticed both hard-wired smoke detectors had been removed from the ceiling.
"Additionally, that the fire did not appear to have originated in the ceiling fan as initially thought, and actually originated in the area of some bath towels on the right-hand wall between the door and the sink," Rodenhiser wrote.
Because there were no ignition trigger in that area of the bathroom, Rodenhiser said that indicated the fire was intentionally set.
Outside, Peterborough Fire Chief Deputy Brain Wall said a young man living in the apartment admitted to starting the fire.
Tatro then told Rodenhiser he set the fire after a phone call from his mother angered him.
After investigating further, Rodenhiser found the two removed smoke detectors in the apartment refrigerator.
Rodenhiser wrote, "he really wanted the apartment to burn down and didn't want the smoke detectors going off and alerting anybody."
Rodenhiser also found a yellow bottle of lighter fuel. Tatro also indicated that he initially used "leaves and plants in a cardboard box from the swamp" to start the fire as well as a blue lighter, which he gave to Rodenhiser.
Tatro's father told Rodenhiser that his son is in need of help and is currently in counseling for mental health issues.
The state Fire Marshal's Office asks anyone with information about the fire to contact Rodenhiser at 223-4289.