BURLINGTON, Vt. – A Burlington man was arrested early Thursday morning after allegedly setting fire to over a half dozen trash cans, dumpsters and recycling bins downtown.
A trash can fire in front of Ahli Baba’s Kabob Shop on Main Street caused significant damage, spreading to the building’s exterior and causing an estimated $70,000 in damage.
“We watched a blaze coming from the dumpster, it was sparking, it kept getting higher and higher,” said one witness.
57 year-old Robert Barbin was arrested outside his residence with wads of paper, ignitable liquid and a lighter. As officers were outside the residence preparing to make contact, Barbin allegedly walked out of the building, spotted officers and walked in an opposite direction. Officers called out to him and stopped him.
“Fires were ignited in trash cans and pile of debris up Church Street and into Peru Street,” said Deputy Police Chief Jon Murad. “And, later in the morning, a fire on Pearl Street.”
In total, four fires were set along the Church Street Marketplace, several were set on Peru Street, and Barbin also sparked two fires on Main Street and Pearl Street.
Police used city video footage to trace Barbin’s path. He will be charged with one count of second-degree arson, seven counts of third-degree arson, and eight counts of reckless endangerment.
“Arsons are dangerous, they’re dangerous to the city, property, neighbors, and to first responders,” Murad said. “Every single act of arson, irrespective to scope of the fire, is dangerous for first responders going towards it to address it and that’s for firefighters and police officers who are approaching it.”
The Burlington Police Department and Burlington Fire Department also acknowledged the help received from out-of-city responders.
Mallets Bay Fire Department and Winooski Fire Department responded into the city for station coverage, and the South Burlington Fire Department responded to an unrelated medical incident within the city. University of Vermont Rescue also responded to the Main Street fire scene for standby, and the Burlington Electric Department responded to address power-related issues. The Colchester Police Department assisted by attempting to make notifications to property owners.
Barbin was also charged with arson in 2018.