Police say man set fire to house he called ‘ugly’ after recent breakup
Published at | Updated at
IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho Falls man reportedly set the mobile home he lived in with his ex-girlfriend on fire “over a recent break-up.”
Eli Lewis, 42, is charged with felony first-degree arson after the Sept. 18 incident that required the response of the Idaho Falls Fire and Idaho Falls Police departments. When first responders arrived at the home in Pinewood Estates on Whispering Pines Drive, smoke was coming from inside the home.
With police arriving first, officers opened the door and called out for Lewis but no one responded. Police tried using a fire extinguisher on the flames coming from the couch near the front door when a neighbor on the phone with Lewis confirmed the man was not inside.
“I was concerned not only for the welfare of Eli, but (about) the community, not knowing the other … motives he had in mind,” the officer writes in a probable cause affidavit. “We pinged Eli’s phone and learned that he was across the street at Lincoln Park.”
Officers spotted Lewis at the park sitting at a picnic table with a dog tied up nearby. It’s not clear exactly what happened next, as court documents have been heavily redacted, but officers did observe soot on Lewis’s pants.
Officers took Lewis back to the home where firefighters were putting out the flames and his former girlfriend and other family members were there.
“I did it, the house was ugly, I made it beautiful, this is true” Lewis reportedly yelled as his ex-girlfriend left the scene, according to court documents. Officers then took Lewis to the Bonneville County Jail where he was booked for arson.
Inside the home, investigators found two bottles of lighter fluid, a small propane tank, a 5-gallon propane tank, charcoal, and other evidence indicating someone set the fire intentionally, according to an IFPD news release.
When this incident was first reported, family members called EastIdahoNews.com to reaffirm that Lewis had no ownership of the home.
Although Lewis is accused of a crime it does not necessarily mean he committed it. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
If convicted of felony arson, Lewis could be ordered to spend up to 25-years in prison and or pay a $100,000 fine along with restitution.
A preliminary hearing for Lewis is scheduled for Oct. 6 at the Bonneville County Courthouse.