April 01, 2020

Montville man sets home afire, takes his life

MONTVILLE – A local man who took his life and set his home on fire Saturday made sure it would burn to the ground before firefighters could reach the scene.

James Dooling, 61, of Center Road sawed down two power poles and a tree to block access to his 1,200-foot-long driveway before setting his residence on fire. He then apparently sat in his vehicle and killed himself with a shotgun.

“The fire marshal has determined it was a suicide,” Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said Sunday. “He was found inside his car with a shotgun.”

Dooling, who apparently was despondent over a recent breakup, left a note in his pickup truck indicating that he intended to harm himself. He also left his wallet, McCausland said. Besides setting fire to his home, he apparently set fire to a van parked nearby.

Fire Chief John York reported the fire to the Waldo County Communications Center at 1:34 p.m. Saturday. He reported seeing a plume of dark smoke rising from woods off Center Road. When York arrived at the scene, he was thwarted in his attempt to reach the home by the barricade Dooling had felled.

Fire units from Montville, Searsmont and Morrill rushed to the scene, but there was little they could do to save the building. Water was shuttled from nearby Ruffingham Meadow, and the fire was extinguished within an hour. The residence burned flat to the ground, one firefighter said at the scene.

Waldo County Deputy Sheriff Gene Rega secured the scene until fire marshal John York and detectives from the state police Criminal Investigation Division arrived to determine the cause of the death and fire.

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