He was standing on the corner watching the house burn, a dab of soot on his forehead.
The 26-year-old didn’t want to talk to investigators, but people in the Spanaway neighborhood recalled seeing him around.
Pierce County prosecutors contend he started a fire Saturday at an abandoned home in the 17500 block of 5th Avenue East.
The man pleaded not guilty Monday to first-degree reckless burning, first-degree criminal trespass and second-degree possession of stolen property.
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He is being held on $25,000 bail.
Neighbors told deputies the man had been squatting in the vacant house.
He was seen standing on the porch when flames were first spotted and carried a mostly used book of matches that appeared to be the same matches used to start the fire, according to charging papers.
The blaze started next to a mattress.
Also found inside the home were stolen credit cards and driver’s licenses, as well as a cell phone, tea and shoes.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653