FOLLOWUP: $250,000 bail for suspect in fire that closed Viaduct

More followup information this afternoon on weekend news – this time, the man arrested for allegedly setting a fire underneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Sunday afternoon, leading authorities to close it for a while. The 52-year-old suspect waived his first appearance, and a judge set his bail at $250,000.

Probable-cause documents tell the story from the officers first noticing smoke while checking out something near Pike Place Market. As they continued to investigate, they moved toward an area under The Viaduct that they say was fenced off and marked NO TRESPASSING but had been clearly broken into and turned into an encampment with at least a dozen tents. The report said the smoke was billowing from an area between the camp and the nearby Burlington Northern railroad tracks. While they continued looking for the source of the smoke, they first spotted the suspect, standing halfway down a slope, near a Viaduct pillar, and noticed that the fire was feet away from him. The officers yelled at him to get away, but he took a few minutes to gather up some belongings before climbing up the hill. Meantime, Seattle Fire had been called in, and the officers went into the camp to evacuate people. At that point, police wrote, “The fire had grown to significant size after only a few minutes. The flames were reaching the ceiling of the roadway above, which was over 20 feet.”

While they were evacuating people, police say, some told officers that the suspect was responsible for the fire. But none would admit to seeing him start it. Several told them, though, that he had been known for burning clothing and trash and getting kicked out of camps in the area as a result. One witness then told officers she had seen the suspect adding cardboard to the fire. They subsequently placed the suspect under arrest and found three lighters and a book of matches while searching him. Then they found he was under Department of Corrections supervision; King County Jail records show this is his ninth booking into the King County Jail in the past year, and that his most recent release was just last Tuesday, after a 17-day stay. He was charged with robbery last August after a downtown shoplifting incident at a clothing store turned violent.

His next court appearance – by which time charges might be filed – is set for Wednesday. Police wrote on the hearing documents that they object to him being released – which, at $250,000 bail, he’s not likely to be – because he’s a risk to public safety and has no fixed address other than a mailing address. As for the Viaduct, spokesperson Laura Newborn says no structural damage was found, which is why inspectors gave the go-ahead for it to be fully reopened within a few hours.

5 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: $250,000 bail for suspect in fire that closed Viaduct"

  • flimflam July 24, 2017 (4:58 pm)

    well, for starters, enforce the “no trespassing” sign and arrest/remove anyone in the area (or other, similar areas). there are many unstable people in the homeless’ ranks and this incident, a few others in our region, and the fire in Atlanta shows very clearly that there should not be anyone living under these structures, and most certainly no fires.

    simple equal enforcement of the laws on the books would sure go a long way in my opinion. 

  • TJ July 24, 2017 (5:45 pm)

    Thank our inept city leadership for this. The fact is many of these people do not want help, almost always related to drugs or a life of crime that prevents them from being part of a civilized society. Our lame duck mayor and Dow Constantine want to throw more money at this? What exactly can they do to help this guy? Drive down the 1st avenue off ramp from the Spokane Street viaduct early in the morning and you can see fires burning under the freeway. Lots of pallets and propane tanks strewn about. Time to listen to the people who pay the bills and stop allowing camping on public property. Police see a tent on a sidewalk or particurlaly under a freeway, tear it down. I am still amazed that 10 miles away in Bellevue I never ever see a tent. 

  • Mark July 24, 2017 (6:04 pm)

    Equal enforcement is definitely needed, its very frustrating to see people flaunting the law with impunity.  

  • TJ July 24, 2017 (10:18 pm)

    WSB, exactly my point. I know there are homeless in Bellevue. They have shelters and transitional housing, just like us here in Seattle. And just like here, there  are rules (no drug use or anti social behavior) to be followed to be sheltered. So what happens to those people there that isn’t happening here? I have a good friend that is a police officer there and I know that they do not allow tents or ramshackle tarp and pallet dwellings to pop up anywhere. His exact words are they are told to “roust” anyone camping on public property. Here, for whatever reason, our leadership has caved and allowed tent cities and derelict RV’s to crop up all over. 

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