Man Stealing Gas in Pierce County While Smoking Cigarette Causes Car Fire, Explosion, Police Say


A 30-year-old man is in jail on suspicion of arson after Tacoma police say he tried to steal gas by siphoning it from another vehicle while also smoking a cigarette. The gasoline ignited, causing a large fire and an explosion.

Tacoma Police Department said the vehicle was a total loss, and the siding of the victim's house was damaged. Police announced Thursday that the man was arrested in Olympia in a stolen vehicle.

The man was interviewed by Tacoma detectives in Thurston County, according to a news release, and police took him into their custody. He was booked into Pierce County Jail for investigation of first-degree arson, second-degree arson and possession of a stolen vehicle. The News Tribune generally does not name suspects of crimes until they have been formally charged.

The car fire occurred Jan. 11 in Tacoma's South End, in the 1600 block of South 61st Street. Tacoma police responded at 11:46 a.m. According to the release, the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames. It was determined to be arson, and police obtained video that showed a man suspected of committing the arson. Police said the man arrived in a stolen Ford F-150 that was found nearby.

Police said the man fled from the fire with a woman in a gray sedan.

Detectives put out a Crime Stoppers bulletin to the public showing an image of the suspect and asking if anyone could identify him. Police said members of the public and local law enforcement responded, and on Monday, detectives got a tip from a person identifying the suspect.