Justin Knight, who is accused of setting fire to a historic Auburn home, is seen in a court appearance. Credit: CBS 13

AUBURN, Maine — Accused of burning a boarding house in Auburn, an alleged serial arsonist made his first court appearance Wednesday.

Justin Knight is accused of setting fire to the historic property and two cars Sunday morning.

Nine people were inside the historic home, now a boarding house, when fires were set on two sides of the building early Sunday morning.

The owner says all the tenants made it out safe.

Investigators say at first, Justin Knight denied setting the fires, but then confessed, telling police he doesn’t know what he’s doing when he starts fires.

“I’m so happy they caught him,” owner Lisa LeBrun said. “Because really, but for the grace of God, nine people could have died.”

According to court papers, three witnesses saw Knight near the home before the fires were set.

Police say one woman told him to leave, but he didn’t.

While police were investigating the fire, a domestic disturbance call came in a few blocks away.

Investigators say Knight was drunk, got into an argument with his girlfriend, and fractured her face.

Police say the victim told them she believes Knight set the fires.

“They had him in custody before the fire was out,” LeBrun said.

Prosecutors argued for a high bail to protect the public.

A judge set Knight’s bail at $75,000.

“No. I don’t want it to happen again. And if keeping him in custody is how that needs to be accomplished, this should never ever happen again,” LeBrun said.

Knight also faces other arson charges for allegedly setting several fires near Edward Little High School last year.

Arson is a Class A felony in Maine punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

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