Federal Way man charged with arson after multiple fires set at Belltown apartment building

Three people were injured in the March 10 fires, one remains in critical condition.

A Federal Way man suspected of setting fire to a Belltown apartment building on March 10 has been charged with arson.

Jerrico Irizarry, 38, is a former resident of the apartment building, according to the Seattle Police Department blotter. He was charged with one count of first-degree arson in King County Superior Court on March 22, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Bail has been set at $1 million bail due to the “extreme threat to public safety,” documents state.

“The fires the defendant intentionally set in the basement parking garage and first-floor areas of the 16-story Bell Tower Apartments jeopardized the lives and housing of well over one hundred residents, all of whom are low-income and would likely be homeless absent the housing opportunity provided by the Seattle Housing Authority administered building,” wrote Casey McNerthney, spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. “Had the fire in the lobby and office spread to the upper floors, the results would have been catastrophic.”

His arraignment is set for April 4 at the King County Courthouse.

Irizarry also has charges pending in Seattle Municipal Court for a 2020 weapons violation and additional weapons and theft charges, according to the prosecuting attorney’s office.

Around 2:45 a.m. March 10, Seattle Fire crews responded to reports of a fire at the Bell Tower Apartments near the 2200 block of 1st Avenue, according to police.

Crews found active fires in the main lobby, main office, back patio area, in an elevator, and in multiple dumpsters inside the covered parking garage of the building’s basement, according to charging documents.

Firefighters found a 50-year-old man in the lobby’s bathroom who was injured due to smoke inhalation, according to the Seattle Fire Department. He was unresponsive and crews performed CPR. He was transported to Harborview Medical Center and remains in critical condition as of March 21.

Two other people also sustained minor injuries from the fire.

A witness reported seeing the former resident near the building’s entrance and when the witness saw the fire, the former resident — later identified as Irizarry — was gone, documents state. A second witness told law enforcement Irizarry allegedly confessed to setting the fires

A few days after the blaze, the second witness met with Irizarry and as they talked, Irizarry reportedly admitted to using a torch-style lighter to start the multiple fires.

When the witness asked why he did it, Irizarry allegedly said it was because “he was upset with the way he was being treated by others in his life,” documents state.

Police were also able to link Irizarry to a previous event at a nearby building, the Scargo/Lewiston Apartments, that same night on March 10.

Seattle Police arrested Irizarry on March 21, where he denied starting the fire at the Belltown apartment complex. Irizarry allegedly admitted to being at the Scargo/Lewiston Apartments building earlier in the night, but could not recall specifics about his actions.

Police found three lighters, including a torch-style lighter, on Irizarry when he was arrested.