SPENCER – A 20-year-old woman was held on $1,000 bail at her arraignment on charges related to an arson fire at a Main Street building where she once lived.
The woman was allegedly carrying a box of wooden matches when she was arrested and investigators said the same type of matches were found inside 42 Main Street where the fire broke out at about 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday (June 20, 2023).
Jenna Stebbins, whose most recent address was in Millbury, was charged with breaking and entering in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony and arson of a dwelling house in connection with the fire, according to Fire Chief Robert P. Parsons. She is due back in East Brookfield District Court on July 19 for a pretrial hearing after being arraigned before Judge Timothy Bibaud on Wednesday, court records show.
Police officers who arrived first radioed that there was a fire inside 42 Main Street and witnesses told them a woman had run from the building as the fire started, court documents show. The officers chased and eventually caught the woman placing her under arrest, Parsons said.
While Stebbins allegedly changed her clothes, witnesses were able to identify her, police wrote in the report.
The fire was quickly extinguished and caused “a few hundred dollars in damage,” Parsons said.
“There was nothing inside and the damage was minimal,” he said, adding that the maze-like configuration inside could have been a dangerous challenge for firefighters had they not made quick work of extinguishing the fire.
Investigators from the state Fire Marshal’s Office along with the Fire Investigation Unit of Mass. Fire District 7 were called in to determine the cause of the blaze, though Parsons said it was believed to be a “set fire” early on.
Mutual aid fire crews from Paxton responded to the scene while Leicester firefighters were on standby at the Spencer Fire Station, according to Parsons. East Brookfield police assisted with road closures in the area of the fire.
The building, at more than 4,000 square feet, has been vacant for some time and the owner most recently sought a building permit to create a single-family home with 7 bedrooms, though no permit had been granted, Parsons said.