PORT ANGELES — A Forks man who police said told them he burned down the single-wide trailer he was renting was charged in Clallam County Superior Court on Tuesday with first-degree arson.
Geoffrey Rich, 56, is being held in the Clallam County jail on $100,000 bail. He is required to be evaluated by Peninsula Behavioral Health prior to release.
Rich’s attorney, Harry Gasnick, requested a competency evaluation. Rich is scheduled to appear in court again Dec. 8.
Rich told Officer Joseph Solberg of the Forks Police Department that he burned down the trailer at 1750 Calawah Way in the Alder Grove Trailer Park in Forks, according to court records.
Rich said he started the fire early Thursday morning because he was tired of being on suicide watch and so he could return to Western State Hospital, court records say.
“That’s my trailer. I burnt it down,” Rich said, according to court records.
After Rich admitted to setting the fire a second time, Solberg placed him under arrest, double-locking the handcuffs.
Rich said he started the fire by putting a coat on the front-right burner of the stove and turning the burner on high.
A deputy found a small gray button on the stovetop.
Rich was accused of setting fire to a motel room that his mother was renting for him in 2000, but the case was dismissed because he was found not competent to stand trial, according to court records.
Court records say he set fire to a room at the All-View Motel in Port Angeles on April 7, 2000. He had placed a sheet on a bar and lit it with matches, records say.
Instead of being released from jail, he was sent to Western State Hospital where he stayed for about 10 years.
“The defendant presents a substantial likelihood of committing criminal acts jeopardizing public safety or security,” court records say.
He was committed to Western State Hospital in June 2001 and discharged in November 2011.
Firefighters arrived at the trailer at about 1:47 a.m. to find it about 70 percent engulfed, said Chief Bill Paul of Clallam County Fire District No. 1.
He called it a total loss. There were other trailers on the north and south sides of the building, but they weren’t at risk of catching fire, Paul said.
“They weren’t in danger at all,” he said. “It was a pretty easy fire to attack.”
He said because the fire had already spread throughout the house, firefighters took a defensive attack. The fire was out by 2:20 a.m., and firefighters cleared the scene at about 5:42 a.m.
Paul said Rich was renting the trailer, which was owned by the owner of the trailer park.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.