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

Court Documents: Centralia Man Admits to Setting Fire, Says He Was Mad About Eviction

By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

A 19-year-old Centralia man is facing a charge of first-degree arson after he allegedly removed smoke detectors from his apartment and lit a fire, according to court documents. 

Kelsey T. Rasmussen, 19, made his first appearance on the class A felony charge Thursday in Lewis County Superior Court. 

Despite his lack of criminal history, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Paul Masiello asked Superior Court Judge Andrew Toynbee to impose $50,000 bail in the case, saying Rasmussen admitted to lighting the fire and intentionally removing smoke detectors. 

Toynbee imposed the bail amount, saying Rasmussen poses a “serious risk to community safety.”

According to court documents, crews from the Riverside Fire Authority responded to a report of a fully-involved structure fire at 8:55 p.m. Wednesday in the 1200 block of Windsor Avenue. 

They arrived to find smoke coming from the top floor of a two-story home converted into a duplex. 

Officers from the Centralia Police Department also responded and attempted to determine if anyone was still inside the structure. 

A resident of the bottom floor reported that everyone got out of her unit. The residents of that apartment were displaced by the fire. 

The bottom floor resident described her upstairs neighbor, Rasmussen, and police learned he was spotted walking westbound on the Sixth Street viaduct. 

They caught up to him and placed him in the back of a patrol car. 

According to a release from the police department, Rasmussen was waiting for a taxi when police found him. 

As he was being searched by police, Rasmussen reportedly “hung his head and said, ‘I did it,’” according to court documents. 

At first, Rasmussen told police he was playing with fire and hand sanitizer and when the fire got out of control, he got scared and left. 

However, firefighters with the RFA found a can of shaving cream in the middle of a bed in the apartment and identified it as the origin of the fire. 

Smoke detectors from the unit were found sitting on a railing on a porch.

Rasmussen later told detectives he started the fire because he was getting evicted and was angry, according to court documents. 

His next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24.