Suspect charged in series of arsons in Seattle neighborhoods

Police have charged a 38-year-old man suspected in a series of arsons set in the Ballard, Fremont and Queen Anne neighborhoods last year.

Seattle police believe the man set five fires at businesses between Oct. 28 and Nov. 28, 2018.

  • Oct. 28: An office complex in the 200 block of Etruria Street
  • Nov. 8: An Elks Lodge in the 3000 block of 3rd Avenue Northwest.
  • Nov. 10: A lumber yard in the 300 block of West Ewing Street.
  • Nov. 19: The Seattle Gymnastic Academy in the 1400 block of Northwest 52nd Street.
  • Nov. 28: The Ballard Smoke Shop restaurant in the 5400 block of Ballard Avenue Northwest.

Damage from the fires is estimated to be more than $4 million.

One enormous fire spanning a city block at Gascoigne Lumber in Queen Anne on Nov. 10 destroyed five buildings and caused explosions.

Seattle detectives say the lumber company fire and at least four others within a 3-mile radius were arsons, all intentionally set by the same man. The man was tracked down from DNA evidence he left behind when he dropped a red charcoal lighter fluid cap at the Seattle Gymnastic Academy fire, probable cause documents say.

Prosecutors say the suspect is 38-year-old Matthew Daniel Hooper, a homeless man who has been arrested for 23 crimes.

Hooper was already in custody at the Whatcom County Jail on an unrelated case.

Charging documents say a charcoal lighter fluid bottle or evidence of the use of lighter fluid was found at three of the fires.

Hooper is charged with four counts of second-degree arson. His bail is set at $275,000.

Court documents do not charge Hooper with an October 28 fire at an office complex in the 200 block of Etruria Street, where the Christopher Togawa Insurance Company is located, though Hooper admitted to setting the fire there as well as fires at the Ballard Smoke Shop and Gascoigne Lumber, according to probable cause documents.

The King County Prosecutor's Office said that fire is still being investigated and a charge could be added at a later date.

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