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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Authorities suspect man climbed on his ex’s roof before setting fire to duplex with child inside

UPDATED: Sat., March 6, 2021

Spokane Valley Fire Department investigators believe a fire that destroyed part of a duplex was an arson caused by a resident’s ex-boyfriend, according to court documents.

Firefighters who arrived just before 2 p.m. Dec. 15 to a house fire on the 11000 block of East Boone Avenue in Spokane Valley found the building with windows shattered from the heat.

Flames originating on a lower-level patio had busted out windows and burned through bedrooms. The patio was heavily charred, the court documents say.

Although no one was injured, a 33-year-old woman was seated in the back of an ambulance to receive treatment for minor smoke inhalation, according to the court documents.

Although the building was equipped with fire alarms, they hadn’t gone off. Inside, the woman, along with a grandmother, her daughter and her 9-year-old grandchild were unaware of the fire as it was climbing up the exterior of the building, according to the documents.

Just before the fire began, the 33-year-old had been sitting in her living room, texting her ex-boyfriend, she told investigators. The two had been dating when they moved in with a friend at the duplex. Over several months, her ex had become increasingly abusive and the renter kicked him out, she said. Then, she and the renter began dating, according to court documents.

Her ex had since texted her threats, and said that she would die, she told investigators.

This December day, she was texting her ex when she heard someone crawling around on the roof, she told investigators, according to court documents.

Then she saw her former boyfriend jump from the roof to the balcony, break the glass door with his elbow and jump down to the ground, about an 8-foot drop, the documents say.

Her neighbor, who is the mother of her current boyfriend, also saw the woman’s ex-boyfriend running away after hearing what she had thought were raccoons on the roof, the documents say.

When the fire started, a 12-year-old boy on his bike spotted it and saw a man throwing something on it before running away, according to court documents.

Around that time, a man driving along Boone saw “a little smoke” billowing from the house and noticed a smell like burning wires. He parked, moved to the back of the house and tried to put out the fire that was only on the patio then, but it grew too fast, he told investigators.

Then he ran, knocking on each exterior door to the building and yelling that the residents needed to get out because of the fire, the court documents say.

The residents escaped, though some rooms burned and others were coated with soot, according to the documents. Fire investigators could find no natural cause for the fire and determined it had been intentional, the documents say.

At around 2 a.m. the next day, about 12 hours after the fire had started, the woman’s ex-boyfriend called 911 complaining of broken ribs and trouble breathing, according to the documents.

He had a warrant out for his arrest and, after treatment at the hospital, was arrested for the unrelated suspected crime.

The man had not been charged with suspected arson as of Thursday evening, but was in the Spokane County Jail on suspicion of three domestic violence counts.

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