Details Released on Cause of Somersville Mill Fire

Arrest warrant application sheds light on circumstances surrounding the June 2 blaze.

Careless disposal of cigarette butts is apparently what caused a massive fire that destroyed the historic Somersville Mill on June 2, according to the affidavit supporting the arrest warrant for one of three people charged in connection with the blaze.

After more than three months of investigation, charges of first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree criminal mischief, and third-degree criminal trespass were filed Monday at State Police Troop C in Tolland.

The individuals charged are Erin Houle, 23, of Indian Orchard, MA, Christopher Jackson, 21, of 42 Armstrong Rd., Enfield, and Wesley Hall, 20, of 14 Long Hollow Rd., Enfield.

Houle was arraigned Monday in Rockville Superior Court, and was released on a promise to appear Oct. 1. Jackson and Hall each posted $5,000 surety bonds, and are also scheduled to return to court Oct. 1.

All three suspects cooperated with police throughout the investigation, and turned themselves in Monday.

Hall is the son of Enfield Town Councilwoman Carol Hall and police captain Fred Hall. Neither could be reached for comment Tuesday morning.

According to the affidavit supporting Houle's arrest, she left her place of employment in East Windsor shortly after midnight with Jackson and Hall, her boyfriend. They planned "to check out a haunted building," the affidavit says.

After parking at the nearby Somers Wine and Liquor Shop, the trio walked to the abandoned mill and entered through a broken window. They then used the lights on their cell phones to find their way around, while smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. "They went through the entire building on the first floor discarding their cigarettes on the floor. They just flicked them onto the floor once they were done, not stamping them out," the affidavit says.

The three suspects then went to the second floor, where they continued to smoke, drink and take photos with Houle's cell phone. They proceeded to do the same thing on each floor, eventually reaching the rooftop, before descending back down the wooden stairwell into the basement. They eventually went back to the first floor and exited the building through the same broken window they had entered, according to the affidavit.

The three spent from 45 minutes to an hour inside the structure, then proceeded to Hall's parents' house, where Houle stayed for the night. The following morning, she received a text message from Hall telling her not to post any of the photographs on Facebook, as she had planned to do, because he had learned about the fire from a news site, the affidavit says.

Houle, Hall and Jackson all turned over their cell phones to investigators, and forensic examination of Houle's phone showed the pictures were taken between 1 and 2 a.m. "Some of the photographs documented the flooring of the mill to be wood and debris about them," the affidavit states.

During the course of the investigation, detectives asked Hall which stairwell the group had used once inside the building. "Hall explained it was the stairwell next to the street (Maple St.)," the affidavit says.

The State Fire Marshal Unit concluded the fire originated in that stairwell, in the southeast corner of the building. "He determined the cause of the fire to be incendiary based upon the fact that the mill structure was vacant and had been abated of hazards, fuel and electrical conductors and was void of normal contents. There was sufficient fuel load of debris and clutter to support a small fire rapidly spreading based upon the open floor plan and design of the structure," the affidavit states.

None of the three suspects has any criminal history in Connecticut. Houle was charged with operating under the influence in Massachusetts in 2010, while Hall was charged with possession of alcohol by a minor in that state in 2012, the affidavit says.

Somers Resident State Trooper, route: {:controller=>"listings", :action=>"show", :id=>"town-of-somers-resident-state-trooper"} --> Jose Claudio said there is no connection between the mill fire and the


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