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Spokane man charged in three fires

Thomas Clouse Staff writer

A Spokane man who was arrested early Saturday for attempting to set his own house ablaze was charged Monday with intentionally setting two other fires.

Gregory J. Brimer, 35, remains in custody on a $150,000 bond on a charge of attempted first-degree arson in connection with a fire started at 12:55 a.m. Saturday in boxes outside his home at 5817 N. Greenwood Blvd., fire investigator Capt. Mike Zambryski said.

On Monday, charges of second-degree arson and first-degree arson were added against Brimer in connection with two other fires late Friday night.

“We’ve actually got more than two witnesses on this one,” Zambryski said.

Brimer said in an interview Monday that he is innocent.

One of the witnesses told police that he was sitting on his porch smoking when he saw a flame flickering near some boxes under the attached garage at 5817 N. Greenwood Blvd., Spokane police officer Ryan Reding wrote in his report.

“He observed the defendant, who was wearing a dark-hooded sweat shirt, fleeing the scene,” Reding wrote in court records.

That neighbor quickly put out the fire before it could spread to the structure, Zambryski said.

Spokane police officers already were in the neighborhood because of two prior calls about suspicious fires. An officer with a police dog tracked Brimer from his Greenwood home to an alley about a block away, Zambryski said.

Earlier that night, fire crews were called at 10:07 p.m. to 4327 W. Everett Ave. A homeowner was remodeling the home and had left the detached garage unlocked. The fire destroyed the garage and extended into the attic of the home, Zambryski said.

Then, at 11:46 p.m., fire crews were called to 5341 N. Driscoll Blvd., Zambryski said. In that case, a fire was started in an attached garage and extended into the house, where the owner had just completed a renovation.

“The owner of the home on Driscoll was getting ready to put it on the market this week,” Zambryski said. “Now he’s got to start all over again.”

A neighbor was watching the flames at the Driscoll house when she noticed a man wearing dark clothing, Zambryski said.

“She looks out and sees this person right next to her house watching the fire,” Zambryski said. “So, police have these two fires and a person reporting this suspicious person next to her house. They shot up there to investigate, and that’s why they were in the area” when they heard the call at the Greenwood fire.

Nobody was injured in any of the fires. Brimer’s girlfriend, Jessica Russell, was home with their two children.

In an interview Saturday, Russell said she can’t imagine Brimer intentionally setting the fires.

Russell said Brimer left their home on Greenwood at 7 p.m. after they got into an argument and was caught by the police dog when he was on his way back home after drinking.

In a jailhouse interview on Monday, Brimer gave the same story as his girl-friend, saying he and Russell argued over his drinking.

Brimer said he left the house on Greenwood about 7 p.m., purchased two bottles of rum and sat in a nearby park to drink them.

“I wasn’t anywhere around the house,” he said. “I was four or five blocks down the street walking home when the police arrested me.”

Brimer, who said he was wearing a gray pullover sweatshirt, denied any involvement in the fires. “I kept asking them, ‘What am I being arrested for? Walking home?’ “

After Brimer’s arrest, police escorted the first witness to the alley where they arrested Brimer. The witness “identified the defendant as the person he saw running from the scene,” Reding wrote in his report.

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