By A.J. ALGIER
Sun Staff Writer
WAKEFIELD — A 19-year-old Bradford man who reportedly told police he “desperately wanted to be a fireman” was released on his own recognizance after appearing in 4th Division District Court on a Westerly police felony charge of arson.
Austin D. Hill, 19, of 107 Church St., did not enter a plea to the charge of fourth-degree arson and was scheduled a screening date of Jan. 7 before being released.
Dunn’s Corners firefighters responded to reports of a blaze at 103 Church St. on Nov. 11 at about 1:30 a.m. The report, according to police, was called in by one of Hill’s family members, who saw the fire outside the window.
Firefighters were on the scene within minutes and worked quickly to extinguish the fire that destroyed a 1995 Chevrolet Suburban, with a value of $5,000; a two-vehicle car port, valued at $3,800; and an American Crafter Cycle Trailer, estimated at $7,500.
Police said Hill initially claimed after he witnessed the blaze that he tried to put it out with a garden hose. Later, police said they discovered an empty gas can allegedly used by the suspect to carry fuel to ignite the fire. Police said Hill also had a lighter in his pocket when arrested.
In a statement to police, Hill said he had not intended to burn the vehicle completely but “desperately wanted to be a fireman” and wanted to “train himself” and “see how he would do in a quick emergency situation.”
Conviction on a charge of fourth-degree arson under Rhode Island law carries with it a sentence of not less than one year or not more than three years in prison, with a fine of not more than $1,000 or both.