A Centralia man has been arrested on arson charges after he allegedly lit the back porch of a Pe Ell home on fire Tuesday while three children were inside.
The man, Romulo Yanez Jr., 41, is accused of breaking the front window of the house before “throw(ing) something on fire onto the back porch” of the residence, according to court documents.
A driver who was passing by the residence on her way home called law enforcement when she reportedly saw Yanez light the porch on fire.
A resident of the house reportedly put out the fire on the porch then called law enforcement to report the incident.
Responding officers “observed several charred boards and melted portions of the back patio” as well as the broken window on the front side of the house, according to court documents.
The resident told law enforcement “all the smoke alarms were going off in the house” and that three children were upstairs during the incident.
A court-issued protection order prohibiting Yanez from contacting the primary resident at the Pe Ell residence was active at the time of the incident.
Yanez was arrested and was booked into the Lewis County Jail at 12:20 p.m. on June 15. He has since been charged with one count each of first-degree arson, third-degree malicious mischief and violation of a court order. All charges have been classified as domestic violence.
The most serious offense, first-degree arson, domestic violence, carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Given that Yanez was out on bail for an unrelated Pacific County case when the alleged incident occurred, Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead asked Judge Joely Yeager to set Yanez’ bail at $200,000 during Yanez’ preliminary hearing in Lewis County Superior Court on Thursday.
Halstead also referenced Yanez’ criminal history, which includes three domestic violence-related convictions within the last two years in Lewis County as well as witness tampering and rendering criminal assistance convictions, as a reason for the high bail.
While Defense Attorney Rachael Tiller asked Yeager to set bail no higher than $50,000 due to Yanez’ financial situation, Yeager opted to grant Halstead’s bail request.
“I think that’s incredibly reasonable given the circumstances here,” she said Thursday.
Yeager also granted Halstead’s request for another no-contact order protecting the alleged victim.
Yanez’ next court appearance is an arraignment hearing scheduled for June 23.