News

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


basement.


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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