Kelsey T. Rasmussen makes his first appearance Thursday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court on a charge of first-degree arson.

Centralia Man Sentenced to 21 Months After Pleading Guilty to Arson

By The Chronicle

Kelsey T. Rasmussen makes his first appearance Thursday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court on a charge of first-degree arson.
Kelsey T. Rasmussen makes his first appearance Thursday afternoon in Lewis County Superior Court on a charge of first-degree arson.

A Centralia man has pleaded guilty less than two weeks after he was charged with arson for allegedly setting his apartment on fire because he believed he would be evicted. 

Kelsey T. Rasmussen, 19, was charged Aug. 17 with first-degree arson a day after he was arrested following a fire at his upstairs unit in a duplex.

Rasmussen pleaded guilty on Aug. 23, less than a week after he was first charged, and was sentenced Wednesday afternoon. 

His attorney, Don Blair, told the court that Rasmussen immediately wanted to take responsibility for his actions and was cooperative with law enforcement. 

“This was clearly aberrant behavior,” Blair said. 

Blair and the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office jointly asked for a sentence of 21 months in prison with 18 months of community custody after his release. 

Superior Court Judge Andrew Toynbee went along with the recommendation. Rasmussen did not speak at his sentencing. 

Rasmussen has been in custody since his arrest on $50,000 bail. 

According to court documents, the Riverside Fire Authority responded at 8:55 p.m. Aug. 16 to a fully involved structure fire at a residence in the 1200 block of Windsor Avenue. They saw smoke coming from the second floor unit of a two-story home converted into a duplex. 

Police officers learned Rasmussen, an occupant of the upper floor apartment, was walking in the area and contacted him. He reportedly “hung his head and said ‘I did it,’” according to court documents. 

Rasmussen reportedly removed smoke detectors from the unit and started a fire on a bed.

Residents of the bottom floor apartment were displaced. No injuries were reported.