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A fire that destroyed the landmark Princess Theatre on Dec. 13 has been ruled a case of arson. (DEBRA THORNBLAD/Union Leader Correspondent)

Destruction of Berlin theater is ruled arson

BERLIN — A fire that destroyed the landmark Princess Theatre on Friday, Dec. 13, has been ruled a case of arson. Two 15-year-old boys have been taken into custody in connection with the fire and both have been charged with Class B felony arson.

Because they are juveniles, their names are not being released. A hearing held in Berlin District Court on Wednesday, Dec. 18, was closed. Berlin Police Chief Peter Morency said there's a possibility they could be certified as adults because the fire could have endangered the lives of people living in a close adjacent building. If that happens it will be at the superior court level.

Police say the two boys allegedly forced their way into the theater through a back door. The fire was set in the projection area on the second floor, allegedly using lighters."It was a combination of things, people paying attention and talking to us," Morency said, regarding how the youths were identified.There were smaller footprints outside the theater, some young people hanging around the area were identified and through word of mouth, Morency said.

The boys were picked up by police on Tuesday, Dec. 17, and held overnight by the Coos County Sheriff's office in Lancaster.

The two are also possible suspects in fires that occurred in Success. On Thursday, a pile of mattresses were burned and on Saturday, some tires.


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