A man who is accused of setting fire to his apartment at the VA Portland Health Care System’s Vancouver Campus reportedly told first responders he had used methamphetamine beforehand.
Timothy Scott Michaelis, 59, of Vancouver appeared Feb. 26 via Zoom in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree arson. Judge David Gregerson set Michaelis’ bail at $30,000. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday, court records show.
The Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office determined the Thursday morning fire was arson, and estimated the property and contents loss to be $39,332.
Vancouver Fire Department crews responded at 10:45 a.m. to the apartment fire at 1615 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. They located the alarm panel for the building and determined which room was under threat. Once at the room, they spotted smoke pouring from the closed front door, Vancouver firefighter and spokesman Joe Hudson said.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, the door was locked so firefighters had to break it open to gain access. Just inside, they found a pile of miscellaneous belongings ablaze on the floor. Hudson previously told The Columbian the fire was quickly put out with a fire extinguisher.
Firefighters located the occupant, who was naked and barricaded inside a back bedroom, the affidavit says. The responders escorted the man, identified in court records as Michaelis, to Vancouver police officers waiting outside.
He allegedly told responders he started the fire, but he didn’t give a reason why. He said he had used methamphetamine minutes before the fire, according to the affidavit.
More than 100 people were estimated to be inside the apartment building at the time of the fire. No one was injured, and the fire was contained to Michaelis’ apartment.
“Whenever fire is in a multifamily type structure, whether intentional or unintentional, it affects everybody in there. It’s critical that safe fire prevention behaviors are followed. This is an unfortunate act because it was a human intentional act,” Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said.
The fire marshal’s office said the joint fire investigation team is following up.