BEACON FALLS — State police arrested a 25-year-old Shelton man last week in connection with a fire last August that destroyed a vacant house in Beacon Falls.
Drug use played a role in the blaze at 127 Beacon Valley Road, according to the arrest warrant for Jakob Sears. Police charged Sears, of 23 Westminster Ave., Shelton, on May 15 with second-degree criminal trespass, third-degree criminal mischief and interfering with an officer.
The charges stem from an early-morning fire on Aug. 30, 2016. The vacant home is owned by Sears’ uncle, John D. Daisey, and was in the foreclosure process at the time of the fire, according to the warrant.
A neighbor across the street from the home woke up at about 3:30 a.m. the night of the fire to use the bathroom when he noticed flames coming out of some windows of the house and a flashlight shining in the backyard, the warrant states. The neighbor yelled out to the person in the backyard, and it was Sears, who then walked to talk to the man, according to the warrant.
The men stopped a passing car, and the driver called 911 to report the fire, the warrant states.
Firefighters from Beacon Hose Company No. 1 and the Naugatuck Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire in about an hour.
The neighbor told police that when fire trucks and police cars arrived on the scene, Sears took off and went into woods across from the river, the warrant states.
Police caught up with Sears at about 4 a.m. at a home in Naugatuck. According to the warrant, Sears told a state trooper he was at the Sunoco gas station on Route 63 at about 2:30 a.m. when he noticed a lot of smoke. Sears stated he saw the house on fire and a lot of people on the road, so he went into the woods to cross over and saw the neighbor, the warrant states.
Later on that morning, police went to Sears’ home in Shelton to further investigate.
Sears told detectives he had no knowledge as to who set the fire and denied any involvement, the warrant states. During a subsequent interview at the Troop I barracks in Bethany, Sears opened up about the events leading up to the fire.
Sears told officers he previously went to the home three or four times without permission usually to sleep or when he had no other place to go, the warrant states. On the night of the fire, Sears told police he went to the house to sleep and get high, according to warrant.
Sears told police he walked from his godmother’s home in Naugatuck to Beacon Valley Road and smoked crack along the way, the warrant states. He got to Beacon Valley Road at about 1 a.m. and pushed in a broken window to unlock a door to the house.
While inside the home, the warrant states, Sears used heroin in the living room. Sears told detectives he was “feeling aggravated and depressed about his excessive drug use” and stressed out over other issues, according to the warrant. He flipped over a table that had drug paraphernalia on it, and the table hit a wall, the warrant states.
Sears left the living room and then started to smell smoke. When he returned to the living room, the warrant states, the curtains were on fire. Since the water was only dripping out of the bathroom faucet and he had no container to hold water, Sears told police he tried to smother the fire with a pillow but was coughing too much.
Sears told police he left the house to try and find a container for water and couldn’t call 911 because his cell phone was dead due to using it as a flashlight, according to the warrant. Sears told police it appeared the fire went out, and he went back inside and “threw a pillow and couch cushions on the remaining flames,” the warrant states. He believed the fire was out and left, the warrant states.
Sears told police he stopped at the gas station and then went back to his godmother’s home nearby, the warrant states. He returned to Beacon Valley Road later after seeing a large amount of smoke, according to the warrant.
Sears denied deliberately setting the fire, the warrant states, but admitted drugs were a factor in the fire. He told detectives he feels terrible about the fire and was glad no one was hurt, the warrant states.
Sears was convicted of two misdemeanor drug possession charges a month before the fire and sentenced to one year in jail suspended and two years of probation, according to the Connecticut Judicial Branch’s website.
An accelerant detection dog searched the house after the fire and didn’t indicate any accelerants were used, the warrant states. The exact cause of the fire remains undetermined. The warrant states, “more probable than not the fire was by human design and by means of human hands with an open flame, consistent with that of a match of lighter.”
Sears was released on a $5,000 non-surety bond and is scheduled to appear in Derby Superior Court on June 5, the warrant states.