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May 24, 2022

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Vancouver man sentenced for setting neighbor’s house on fire

He pleaded guilty to arson, assault; will serve 21 months

By , Columbian staff writer

A Vancouver man was sentenced Friday to 21 months in prison for lighting his former neighbor’s house on fire, while the family was home, in October in west Hazel Dell.

Ross Anthony Burke, 36, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to second-degree arson and second-degree assault. He was originally charged with first-degree arson. The agreed-upon sentence was above the standard sentencing range of 12 to 14 months.

The Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office and Clark County Fire District 6 responded shortly before 10:30 p.m. Oct. 26 to the 1700 block of Northwest 104th Street.

A woman, her husband and three children were inside their house when the woman looked out the window and saw a masked man pouring gasoline on their porch, according to court records.

No one was injured in the fire, and any flames were extinguished before fire crews arrived, Fire District 6 said in a news release.

On Friday, the woman, Rachel Grant, told Judge Jennifer Snider that her kids no longer feel safe at home and that she still has nightmares about the fire. She told Burke to consider if it was his own children inside a burning house.

“I hope your family never has to go through something traumatic like my family,” Grant said. “I hope you get the help you need to stay clean when you get out.”

Defense attorney Lisa Toth said Burke has no prior criminal history and that he had relapsed from his sobriety.

Deputy Fire Marshal Jason Knoble wrote in a probable cause affidavit that Burke can be seen on footage from a Ring doorbell pouring gasoline on the porch before getting back into his pickup and driving off. Burke was also seen on footage at an Arco gas station filling up the gas can before driving off in the direction of the house.

A neighbor identified Burke and told investigators he used to live next door to the house he set on fire, the affidavit states.

The neighbor and Grant recognized the truck seen in surveillance video as belonging to Burke. Investigators also found photos of the truck on Burke’s Facebook page, according to court records.

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