Bail was set at $75,000 Tuesday for a suspected arsonist who is accused of intentionally setting a string of fires Monday afternoon near the north end of The Jungle homeless encampment.
A 50-year-old Seattle man was ordered held on $75,000 bail Tuesday, a day after he was accused of setting a string of fires near the homeless encampment known as The Jungle.
A King County District Court judge found probable cause to hold the man on investigation of second-degree arson.
The Seattle Times is not naming the man because he has not been charged.
Just before 1:30 p.m. Monday, a man who was riding a motorcycle to work along Poplar Place South told police he saw an old couch on fire at the end of South Dean Street. He also noticed a man standing next to the couch “with a purple bbq lighter in his hand,” says the probable-cause statement outlining the police case against the suspect.
Most Read Local Stories
- Judge rules BNSF intentionally violated terms of easement with Swinomish tribe
- WA's homeless population is increasing, new HUD report shows
- Where WA keeps its money: Most is tied up in a handful of huge banks
- Mukilteo man's rare brain surgery may help his seizures — and science VIEW
- Rising rents push Seattle residents farther into suburbs
The motorcyclist, “thinking that the guy was lighting fires,” decided to follow and take photos of him with his cellphone, the statement says. The suspect walked through an alley between two buildings and turned west onto South Dearborn Street, it says.
The motorcyclist then ran into a Seattle police officer, told her about the couch fire and showed her the photos he had taken, which he then emailed to her, the statement says.
Firefighters arrived and quickly extinguished the couch fire but then noticed a building at 1421 S. Dean St. had been broken into, and another fire had been set inside, according to the statement. The building’s sprinkler system knocked out the flames before it sustained extensive damage.
“In quick succession” after the couch was set ablaze, “multiple other fires occurred in and around the jungle,” says the statement. Officers were unable to locate a suspect until the photograph taken by the motorcyclist was distributed citywide.
According to police, the suspect was carrying a purple lighter when he was arrested near The Jungle on South Dearborn Street.
A police captain told The Seattle Times on Monday that a handful of fires were lit in the greenbelt along Interstate 5 and a couple of hours later, three or four more fires were set near Jose Rizal Park.
The area is at the north end of The Jungle, where hundreds of people live in makeshift homeless encampments.
The Jungle stretches from Beacon Hill to Sodo under and near I-5. The city plans to clear out the camp after two people were killed and three others wounded in a January shooting.