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Suspect in 13 county arson fires released on bail



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JOHN R. COLCORD at a non-suspicious house fire in July as a member of the Madison Fire and Rescue Department. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
September 08, 2011
MADISON— A former member of Madison Fire and Rescue Department is out on bail, accused of setting at least one of a dozen suspicious fire this summer.

John R. Colcord, 18, who police say spent time living with his divorced parents in Eaton and in Madison was arrested Sept. 1 and charged with the June 27 fire that destroyed a barn and part of a house on Glines Hill Road in Eaton.

It is expected that Colcord will also be charged with the other fires. NH State Fire Marshal's Office Fire Investigator Thomas Riley confirmed that "the investigative team has identified a suspect responsible for thirteen fires and an arrest has been made in relation to one of the fires…future charges and arrests will be forthcoming for the other related fires."

A month's worth of fires kept area fire departments and the public on edge as fire after fire were ruled suspicious by the fire marshal's office. May 31, under an extended period of no significant rainfall, at about 11 p.m. crews were called to the Ossipee Pine Barrens off Route 41 in Madison to extinguish about an acre of forest fire. The next afternoon, June 1, they were called to put out a 3-acre burn area in a different area of the Pine Barrens. Then on the morning of June 5, approximately 50 firefighters responded to yet another area of the Pine Barrens and spent about five hours putting out a fire that was later determined to actually be three set fires that combined into one.

Between June 5 and June 21, crews responded to reports of set fires in the woods behind King Pine Ski Area and another on the resort's property across the street on Sunset Beach Road.

June 21 was the massive blaze at 192 Mooney Hill Road just after midnight where two large post and beam barns burned and several animals were killed. When the fire chief first arrived he said it seemed unlikely they would be able to save the house. Firefighters who were on that scene are being heralded for their extraordinary efforts in saving the house that was just 30 feet away from one of the barns.

On June 22 a storage shed at Purity Springs Resort was burned in another suspicious fire.

It was June 27 when the most massive undertaking by local firefighters in this string found them having to fight two fires simultaneously. The first fire, called in just after midnight was the Eaton barn fire. About 40 minutes into fighting the fire, with several mutual aid departments committed to the scene, including Freedom Fire Department, a call went out for a house fire in Freedom.

Police have said that all of these fires are suspicious. As of press time, Colcord had not been formally charged with any of the fires except the one in Eaton.

According to Colcord's bail conditions, he is wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet so that the Carroll County Department of Corrections can monitor his whereabouts through GPS technology.

Other media outlets have reported that Colcord was terminated from his volunteer position on Madison Fire and Rescue Department earlier this summer but his exact termination date could not be determined for this story.

Madison Police Chief James Mullen was quick to point out that Colcord's arrest is not a reflection on the fire department where Colcord and generations of his family have been members. "These are strictly the actions of a certain individual," said Mullen.

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