Trial set for Fall City arsonist

SEATTLE _ Court dates were set earlier this week for a man accused

of setting a Fall City home on fire in June. The schedule was released after

the Valley Record went to press.

Prosecutors charged Bryce Joseph Backman of Fall City with

second-degree arson on June 26; however, the 36-year-old pleaded not guilty to

a King County Superior Court judge.

He previously confessed to investigators that he started the June

19 blaze that damaged the basement of a home in the 3010 block of 309th

Avenue Southeast.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine.

The Fall City man allegedly smeared a tar-like substance on

the home's basement walls and ignited the material with a hand-held lighter,

court documents stated.

Property Owner Berry Hansen told the fire investigator that he evicted

the tenants a week before the fire but that he allowed Backman to stay in

the home. Backman was supposed to leave the property by June 19.

Sometime after setting the blaze, Backman stole the victim's Ford

truck that was parked in the driveway. Backman called Hansen later

that evening and arranged to return the truck.

But when the suspect brought back the stolen vehicle, the only

person waiting for him was an officer with handcuffs. He was arrested for

possession of stolen property. After further investigation, Backman

admitted to the fire investigator that he set the early morning house fire that

caused $25,000 in damage.

On June 19, crews were called to the scene of the fire at 5:30 a.m.

after a passerby noticed smoke rising from the house. When firefighters

arrived, the fire had already spread to the first floor of the two-story home,

according to Fall City Fire Chief Chris Connor. Crews were able to get

the blaze under control within 10 to 15 minutes.

Investigators immediately knew that the fire was the work of an

arsonist because there was evidence that the fire started in two areas of the


According to court documents, Backman had 29 warrants for his

arrest since 1993, which included fourth-degree assault and violation

of no contact orders. Before the fire, Backman was allegedly planning

to move to Alaska.

He is currently being held at the King County Jail on $100,000 bail.

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