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Owner of Concord fire-damaged home faces multiple charges

Three fire engines, a tower truck and three ambulances responded to the house fire at 23 Downing Street in Concord on Monday morning, October 7, 2013. The fire was contained just before noon, leaving what fire officials described as extensive damage inside.

(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Three fire engines, a tower truck and three ambulances responded to the house fire at 23 Downing Street in Concord on Monday morning, October 7, 2013. The fire was contained just before noon, leaving what fire officials described as extensive damage inside. (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

The owner of a home at 23 Downing St. in Concord that was badly scorched earlier this week has been arrested and charged with failing to prevent the fire from growing out of control, as well as several other possibly unrelated infractions.

Ronald Paige was arrested yesterday morning by the police and charged with reckless conduct, being a felon in possession of a dangerous weapon, three charges of vandalism and a bail violation.

Officers detained Paige after receiving reports yesterday of a domestic dispute at a residence on Pembroke Road, where his girlfriend lives and where he’s accused of having tossed a piece of furniture through a window and smashing open a locked door.

Authorities had already been suspicious of Paige’s conduct in Monday’s fire.

“Based on the circumstances surrounding the fire,” a statement from the Concord Police Department said, “investigators from the Concord Fire Department became suspicious and alerted police.”

Following initial interviews, the police obtained a search warrant for Paige’s home and, inside, found a 3-foot-long samurai sword, which Paige was prohibited from possessing because of previous felony convictions for sexual assault.

While the cause of the fire remained under investigation, officials said yesterday that, based on witness interviews, Paige failed to contact authorities or do anything to prevent the fire from spreading.

“You allowed the fire to progress to a highly dangerous stage,” said Judge Gerard Boyle in a video arraignment yesterday at Concord’s district court.

Lt. Timothy O’Malley said that, based on the results of the investigation, it’s possible the reckless conduct charge could be elevated to arson.

Paige had been out on bail following an arrest Aug. 22 for criminal trespassing and resisting detention at a restaurant in Concord.

During the arraignment yesterday, Assistant City Prosecutor Steven Endes described Paige’s charges in the context of a criminal history dating back to 1998 that included repeated arrests, as well as a rash of erratic recent behavior. Paige was kicked out of a Holiday Inn on Sunday, Endes said, because he allegedly threw cushions into a hotel pool. And he reportedly threatened his girlfriend that he would continue to break into her home as long as she continued to lock it.

In response to the charges, Paige told Judge Gerard Boyle that he had been recently hit in the head, that his wallet had been stolen, that someone had set his house on fire and that he had “been in a tailspin” ever since, trying to figure out what had happened.

“I did nothing wrong,” he said. He estimated that he had about $200,000 in direct equity in the home.

Boyle entered not guilty pleas on Paige’s behalf on all but the deadly weapon charge, a felony on which he entered no plea.

Paige’s bail was set at $30,000, and a probable cause hearing on the deadly weapon charge is set for Oct. 24.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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