ROCHESTER –Shawn Hoyt, 19, of 8 Lincoln St. in Dover, was charged with arson – a Class A felony – for allegedly starting a two-alarm fire in an attached garage at 28 Broadway St. in Dover Tuesday around 9 p.m.
The fire, which destroyed the home on Broadway Street, also damaged an adjacent duplex at 27 Pierce St. While no one was injured, a mother and four children – including a baby - lost their home.
Hoyt, who was arrested Wednesday around 12:45 a.m., was held overnight at Strafford County Jail in Dover on $5,000 cash bail pending a video arraignment in 7th Circuit Court, Rochester District Division, just before noon Wednesday.
Before the video arraignment, Hoyt's mother, Lisa, said her son "is mentally challenged" and has disabilities. She added she had not had a chance to speak to him since the incident.
"I'm just glad everyone's OK," Lisa Hoyt said. Assistant County Attorney Tim Sullivan said Hoyt allegedly started the fire after he "flicked a cigarette on the garage floor" of an occupied home.
Due to the circumstances of the case, Sullivan recommended bail be increased to $100,000 cash. He also requested the court to order Hoyt undergo a mental health evaluation and if released, he should be monitored by GPS and Strafford County Community Corrections Program in Dover.
"Given the circumstances, he is a danger to the community," Sullivan said.
Due to the severity of the crime, Judge Stephen Morrison stressed the importance of a Dover man to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Morrison entered no plea to the felony charge and increased bail – with the conditions Hoyt undergo a mental health evaluation and not return to the damaged home. Morrison also scheduled a bail hearing for Thursday at 10 a.m. in 7th Circuit Court, Dover District Division.
"The most important thing you need to do is talk to an attorney," Morrison told Hoyt.
As part of the investigation, Detective Timothy Burt spoke to Hoyt along Pierce Street as police searched for witnesses at the scene. During the conversation, Hoyt said he had been walking in the area, but he "provided conflicting statements about where he had been coming from," according to the affidavit.
During interviews, investigators smelled "an odor of smoke on Hoyt's person."
"Hoyt admitted to going into the garage at 28 Broadway. He said that he had been smoking a cigarette in the garage," according to the affidavit. "Hoyt said he left the garage and ran up the street looking for help, but was unable to find anyone," according to the affidavit.
Dover Fire Chief Richard Driscoll said the "fully involved" garage fire spread into a home and the heat from the blaze shattered windows and melted the vinyl siding of the duplex, which was less than 20 feet away.
"It's a very old Dover neighborhood," Driscoll said. "The houses are very close together."
Driscoll said firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading further into the duplex. He added the occupants of the duplex were able to return home Wednesday morning. He said firefighters remained at the scene until about 1:30 a.m. Driscoll said the fire rendered the other side of the home "uninhabitable" as it sustained extensive fire, heat and smoke damage. He said members of the American Red Cross are assisting the family, who stayed in a hotel.
Driscoll said the Broadway Street blaze is one of several suspicious fires in the city. He said investigators have not found any indication the fires are linked. "Right now the connection is that they're in the same area," Driscoll said.
Anyone with information about Tuesday's fire or any of the other blaze is encouraged to contact police at 742-4646. Anonymous tips can be left on the Dover Crimeline at 749-6000 or via www.dovernhcrimeline.orgPrevious story follows:
DOVER - A city man is under arrest, accused of setting a fire at a Broadway home, forcing a mother and her four children to flee into the street.
Shawn Hoyt, 19, of 8 Lincoln St. was arrested on a class A felony charge of arson about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, according to police Lt. Brant Dolleman. Hoyt is being held on $5,000 cash bail, pending arraignment later Wednesday in 7th Circuit Court, Rochester District Division.
No one was injured.
The fire was reported just after 9 p.m. at the 28 Broadway home. Dolleman said the blaze began in the attached garage and then spread to the two-story home.
The residence, located at the corner of Pierce Street and Broadway, was heavily damaged in the two-alarm blaze.
Authorities said the fire was the latest in a series of blazes that have occurred in that part of the city and that remain under investigation by both police and fire officials.
Anyone with information about Tuesday's fires or any of the other blazes is asked to call police at 603-742-4646. To remain anonymous, contact Dover Crimeline at 603-749-6000 or go to dovernhcrimeline.org on the Internet.
- Pat Grossmith, New Hampshire Union Leader