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A 51-year-old man has been charged after he allegedly stole a backhoe, wrecked a car, and started a fire in Ste-Therese.

Stephane Kemp is accused of 14 crimes including theft, impaired driving, and mischief.

A witness called 911 Monday evening to report someone had stolen a backhoe and was driving it toward downtown.

Before police could track down the vehicle, the man allegedly used the construction equipment to drive through a fence, smash part of a house, and destroy a car.

Police said that during his rampage he also knocked down several power lines which sparked a fire.

Officers pulled a man out of the machine and arrested him, while firefighters put out the flames.

Hydro-Quebec crews then repaired the snapped lines, ending the blackout that had affected roughly 1,500 people.

Lise Roussel found it hard to believe what she was seeing unfold next to her home.

"I thought I was watching a movie. Never expected to see something like that right beside my place. It was frightening. You never know what goes through their minds. He could have come to my place and done that to my place too," she said.

Two police officers suffered minor injuries in the incident.

A tenant told CTV she had complained to police because a homeless man was living near her property, and so he stole the equipment and attacked her home to get revenge.

Police say the suspect is known in the area and was warned not to come around, and that may have been a motivating factor in the incident.

"We still have to believe that maybe it's the reason why he decided to make some damage of this place precisely," said Eric Huard of the Therese-de-Blainville police. "The investigation is still on the way. We have a lot to do in front of us to understand why the person did that."

Kemp is due back in court on Wednesday.

- With files from Matt Grillo