Police say man tried to light house on fire twice in one night
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IDAHO FALLS — Police say an Idaho Falls man tried to burn down the same house twice in less than 12 hours Sunday night.
Jeremy L. Baker, 18, was charged with felony first-degree arson after police caught him with a blowtorch in his backpack near the burning house, according to court documents. If convicted of the charge, a judge could order Baker to spend up to 25 years in prison.
The Idaho Falls Fire Department first responded to the 100 Block of West Elva Street just before 8 p.m. Sunday. Firefighters found light smoke coming from the top floor of a boarded-up abandoned house. Firemen extinguished the fire within minutes.
“We searched the home and did not find anybody inside,” the fire department reported late Sunday night on Facebook.
An officer with the Idaho Falls Police Department began patrolling the area due to the fire being suspicious, according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by EastIdahoNews.com.
Around 1:45 a.m. Monday, the officer spotted light grey smoke coming from the top windows of the home again. After shining a spotlight in the windows, the officer saw a man, later identified as Baker, darting away.
Police went toward the house and Baker came outside holding a backpack. Inside the bag, investigators found the blowtorch. Baker claimed he used the torch to smoke marijuana wax with his friends.
When asked if he started the fire, Baker said no and was just looking around before seeing the flames himself.
“Like I didn’t even know it was on fire,” Baker said, according to court documents.
Inside the home, investigators said both fires started in the same bedroom and showed a burn pattern of a blowtorch.
Police arrested Baker and booked him into the Bonneville County Jail where he remains held on $25,000 bail. A preliminary hearing for Baker is scheduled for July 10.
Firefighters were kept busy Sunday and Monday as they responded to the Elva Street house twice and then a house on Kearney Street before noon. The Kearney Street house fire remains under investigation.