South King Fire reports 28 arson fires so far this year

A suspect responsible for several fires on July 22 is in custody.

So far this year, there have been 28 arson fires in the Federal Way area, South King Fire officials announced on Friday (Sept. 11).

At each of these fires in recent months, the department partners with the King County Sheriff’s Fire/Arson Investigation Unit (KCSO) to determine the origin and cause of the fire, said Capt. Brad Chaney, public information officer for SKFR.

These arsons include fires intentionally set at multiple unoccupied structures as well as dumpster fires in and around businesses and multi-family housing complexes.

“The KCSO has determined some of these fires to be intentionally set by various means,” he said. “In the last few months there has been a significant increase in frequency resulting in 28 cases this year alone.”

When the cause of a fire involves a crime such as arson in Federal Way, the investigation is taken over by the Federal Way Police Department.

Arson fires in abandon buildings, dumpsters, brush areas, and other locations have increased in frequency, resulting in more than $600,000 in total loss of property or value.

The largest estimated loss of about $300,000 occurred on July 22 at an abandoned residential structure, Chaney said. There were no injuries reported at the fire, but the structure was a complete loss.

Through investigations by FWPD and KCSO, the suspect responsible for the intentional structure fires is currently in custody on an unrelated charge while detectives work with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to file felony charges, Chaney said.

The suspect, Scott Michael Taylor, is in custody for one count of attempted residential burglary for an Aug. 28 incident in Federal Way. As officers were arresting Taylor, they found several lighters and cans of butane fuel in his possession. The King County Prosecutor’s Office charging documents allege Taylor is connected to setting at least two fires in Federal Way on July 22.

Anyone with information pertaining to any of the recent arson fires is urged to contact the Federal Way Police Department at 253-835-2121 (non-emergency number). Tips can also be submitted at 800-55-ARSON or on the website. Tips that result in successful prosecution could lead to rewards up to $10,000.

To protect yourself, your home or your business, South King Fire encourages people to follow the guidelines below.

At home, outside:

  • Secure home and garage areas by locking doors and windows
  • Clean up grasses, weeds, litter or anything that can burn from around buildings.
  • Clear carport areas of all combustibles
  • Locate dumpsters, recycle bins and yard waste containers at least five feet away from walls and roof eave lines. If possible, keep them in a secured area. Do not allow them to become overfilled
  • Trim shrubbery from doors and windows to improve visibility
  • Install motion-sensor exterior lights or consider leaving lights on

At home, inside:

  • Test smoke alarms to ensure they are working
  • Have a fire escape plan for all family members and be sure it includes knowing all the exits and an outside meeting place
  • If you have a fire extinguisher, know where it is located and how to use it

For businesses or buildings, outside:

  • Secure business and garage areas by locking doors and windows
  • Clean up wastepaper, grasses, weeds, litter or anything that can burn from around buildings
  • Do not allow dumpsters to become overfilled. Locate dumpsters and containers at least 5 feet away from walls and roof eave lines. Use only metal or metal-lined receptacles
  • Contact Waste Management regarding locks on commercial dumpsters or keep in secured area
  • Trim shrubbery from doors and windows to improve visibility
  • Install motion-sensor exterior lights

Additional tips for construction sites:

  • Secure security fencing at construction sites
  • Store solvents, fuels and tools in a locked storage container or remove them from the job site when you are not using them
  • Remove trash and debris from the job site
  • Try not to store excess materials on the job site
  • Secure doors and windows on structures when crews are not actively working on the property

For businesses or buildings, inside:

  • Test fire and life safety systems, including fire extinguishers, to ensure they are working and in compliance with codes
  • Develop and practice a fire response plan
  • Keep exit ways clear of items which could slow evacuation efforts

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