Woman charged with arson after reporting fire

JAFFREY — A Jaffrey woman is facing felony-level arson and reckless conduct charges after she allegedly attempted to set fire to her home at 23 Forest Park on Thursday.

Mary Jane Britch, 48, of Jaffrey was arrested on Saturday and charged with arson and reckless conduct. According to a probable cause affidavit filed in 8th Circuit Court in Jaffrey, Britch admitted to starting the fire at her residence after being interviewed by police and Fire Marshal’s office officials.

In an affidavit for a search warrant on file with the court, N.H Fire Investigator Keith Rodenhiser wrote that on Friday Jaffrey Police Lt. Terry Choate was sent to Britch’s home, where she told him that someone had tried to set the front and rear door of the house on fire the previous night. Choate observed smoke and fire damage near both doors and Britch showed him a red gas can inside the back door. Britch told Choate she had come back from a walk, heard smoke detectors going off and saw the two doors on fire. She said she tried to put the fire out with water and baking soda and did not call the Fire Department because she was too upset.

Rodenhiser wrote that Choate spoke to a neighbor who had seen thick black smoke that eventually went away. Jaffrey Fire Chief David Chamberlain came to the residence, where he found indications that the fires at both doors had started inside the house. The affidavit also notes that Britch gave Jaffrey Police consent to check her cell phone, and a text message was found that read, in part, “Not going to be here. Burning the place.”

Based on the search warrant and subsequent interviews, Britch was arrested and charged. She was held at the Cheshire Country House of Corrections and was arraigned Monday in 8th Circuit Court, Jaffrey. Bail was set at $10,000 cash and Britch was returned to jail.

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