Facebook Twitter

ARREST WARRANT ISSUED FOR SUSPECT IN FIRE SPREE

SHARE ARREST WARRANT ISSUED FOR SUSPECT IN FIRE SPREE

Investigators have charged an 18-year-old Salt Lake man with six counts of arson in an early morning May 15 fire spree that did more than $1 million in damage.

An arrest warrant was issued Thursday afternoon for Daniel Seth Johnson, but Capt. Dan Andrus, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City Fire Department, said Johnson was not at home when police went to his residence.The spate of fires included a three-alarm blaze that gutted Intermountain Book Store and Design Direction, both housed in a building at 1986 S. 1100 East. The business losses totaled $1.5 million.

Interviews with 18 people in the area led to the charges against Johnson.

"Apparently he talked about this with others," said Andrus.

A 3rd Circuit Court criminal complaint against Johnson accuses him of setting six fires, all within about three hours of each other and most of which were minor.

Firefighters were first called to the vacant Irving Junior High School building, 1200 E. 2100 South, shortly after 2:30 a.m., where they found a garbage can full of trash ablaze on the second floor.

Within a half hour of that report, firefighters on the scene saw flames a few blocks away. Crews responding to the sighting found fire raging in the bookstore and the design business, which housed furniture and art. Andrus said the fire began in a pile of boxes behind the building. About 80 firefighters spent six hours battling the blaze; all three of the city's ladder trucks were summoned to the scene.

Firefighters within the next 90 minutes or so responded to four other alarms, including a burning Westminster College van at 1200 E. Blaine Ave., a tire fire that damaged a Conoco service station building at 1006 E. 2100 South and a small gasoline blaze at Quality Gas and Snacks, 1751 S. 1100 East. The other fire was in a trash bin at 2148 S. 900 East.

Andrus said the charges against Johnson were based largely on "many long, hard interviews" with people who responded to fire department public requests for help in finding the culprit. Arsonists can be difficult to catch, he said, "because of the lack of physical evidence" in such cases.

Andrus said police don't know the motive behind the arsons.

Johnson faces a second-degree felony charge for the business arson, third-degree felony charges for the Westminster and Conoco fires and misdemeanor charges on the other counts.