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Nashua police say fire was arson

Union Leader Correspondent

February 04. 2014 10:43PM

Maliea Martin (Nashua police)

NASHUA — A local woman is accused of starting a fire last month that required the rescue of two children and two adults from a second-story window.

Maliea Martin of 5 Beard St. has been charged with a felony count of reckless conduct for the Jan. 24 fire at the apartment building where she resided.

An occupant of the five-unit building told police she was “confident that Martin had intentionally started the fire for both the attention from police and also to try and frame the man she alleges raped her a few weeks ago,” says a police affidavit written by Detective Donald Densmore of the Nashua Police Department.

Fire Marshal Adam Pouliot deemed the fire suspicious and also discovered that the blaze originated in the corner of an upstairs hallway just outside of Apt. 2, where an air conditioner and a child’s plastic toy car were stored, according to court documents.

An occupant of the apartment building, Alejandra Corro, told police that Martin started the fire intentionally, in part because Martin is “frustrated by the lack of progress in her (sexual assault) case.”

When police questioned Martin about the fire, Densmore said, she was deceptive throughout the interview, repeatedly changing her story about what transpired the night of the fire.

Martin eventually admitted she had gone out into the hallway with the intention of burning her arm with a cigarette, although she changed her mind and threw the cigarette onto a bench next to a trash bag.

“Martin stated that she was concerned the bag would catch fire, so she swatted the cigarette towards a corner of the hallway where a pile of miscellaneous debris was located,” says the police affidavit.

Martin then went back into her apartment, which filled with smoke a few minutes later as the discarded cigarette ignited a blaze, according to court records. The fire spread quickly, preventing two children and two adults from exiting their apartment door. The four individuals were eventually rescued by firefighters through a second-floor window.

“Martin was adamant that the fire was an accident, and that she would not deliberately endanger her friend and her friend’s children,” says the affidavit.

While searching the damaged apartment building, Pouliot told police the charred debris could not be sent to a laboratory to test for accelerants because the chemicals within the melted plastic car would cause a false negative, according to court documents.

All other sources for the fire were ruled out as possibilities, Pouliot told authorities.

Martin was arraigned Tuesday at the 9th Circuit Court, Nashua District Division, and is being held on $15,000 cash or surety bail. She will be back in court on Feb. 13 for a probable cause hearing.

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