Clairmont indicted for allegedly starting 3 Laconia fires

LACONIA — Nearly two and one-half months after his arrest a Belknap County grand jury has indicted a former Gilmanton man for three counts of arson.

Jason E. Clairmont, 36, is charged with setting a trio of fires in Laconia — the burning of a Volkswagen Jetta on Academy Street on January 25, the burning of some lattice work on Highland Street on the same night, and the burning of a Volkswagen Beetle on September 3, 2013.

Clairmont was arrested after a string of arson fires that plagued Laconia throughout the fall and early winter.

He was initially detained by police after being spotted by a Gilford Police officer on Highland Street shortly after a fire in the lattice work was reported. Clairmont told the officer he had been bitten by a dog and the officer took him to Lakes Region General Hospital.

Police later released information saying it was Clairmont's own dog that bit him and his girlfriend has brought him to Laconia for treatment. She said she dropped him off in the city but instead of going to the hospital, video tapes of the night of January 25 show him at the Funky Monkey night club on Main Street, at Cumberland Farms convenience store on Court Street, where he bought cigarettes, and later walking up Pine Street toward Highland Street.

Police contend he lit the fire in a car parked on the corner of Bowman and Academy Streets, walked up Pine Hill, lit the fire on 91 Highland Street and then was detained by the Gilford officer who was working surveillance in the city while Laconia Police were investigating the car fire down on Academy Street.

Ninety-one Highland Street is across the street from the hospital.

Clairmont was interviewed by police on January 25 and was formally arrested and charged with three counts of arson on February 5, 2014.

At a probable cause hearing held about 10 days after Clairmont's arrest, 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Divison Judge Jim Carroll ruled there was no probable cause for his arrest for the September 3, 2013 car fire.

Carroll found there was probable cause to continue to grand jury for the January 25 fires and ordered that Clairmont continue to be held on $50,000 cash-only bail.

When presented with the information gathered by police and the Belknap County Attorney, a grand jury found there was enough evidence related all three fires to hold a trial.

Clairmont has told police that it is possible he was accidentally smoking too close to the car on Highland Street and the lattice on Highland Street.

Laconia Police said that the investigations into the remaining city fires, including two at Pitman's Freight Room, one at Christmas Island and one at the former Skate Escape building is ongoing. Anyone with any information is asked to call the Laconia Police at 524-5252 or the Greater Laconia Crime Line at 524-1717.