Man arrested for investigation of Port Townsend arson

PORT TOWNSEND — A man with no known address has been arrested for investigation of arson and other crimes.

Jay A. Baker, 56, remained Saturday in Jefferson County Jail on $30,000 bail.

During his first court appearance before Superior Court Judge Keith Harper, legal counsel was appointed and he was informed of the charges pending against him: two counts of second-degree arson, two counts of malicious mischief in the third degree — physical damage less than $750, and theft of a motor vehicle.

Arraignment is set for Friday.

Baker is accused of setting a fire at the Port Townsend branch of the United States Post Office, trying to set a fire outside of the Jefferson County Courthouse, damaging vehicles at the Jefferson County Solid Waste facility and at the Jefferson County Courthouse and stealing a motorhome.

“We are going to pursue a petition to evaluate him by mental health authorities,” said Michael Haas, county prosecuting attorney.

On Sept. 8, police were called to the post office at 1322 Washington St., to find a bush at the front of the building on fire. East Jefferson Fire Rescue fire fighters extinguished the blaze, which damaged brush and a metal railing attached to the building behind the bush.

Police said that Baker told them he “set a juniper bush on fire in front of the post office with a lighter and no accelerant,” according to court documents.

The documents also say that he told police he tried to set a sign on fire that was placed beneath the loading dock of the post office.

Port Townsend Officer Jon Stuart said in court documents that he located a corridor under the loading dock and found a burnt piece of cardboard. The cardboard was placed under a wooden sign leaning against the wall. There were burnt soot marks on the board, and a burnt match and one unused match on the ground near the fire, Stuart said.

‘Intimidate the county’

Baker told police that he does not intend to hurt anyone, he just has intentions to “intimidate the county,” according to court documents. He also allegedly said that he “started those fires because they were in Jefferson County.”

Stuart said police are investigating if Baker was involved in or had knowledge of other fires.

In addition to the post office fire on Sept. 8, fires were reported Sept. 9 at The Food Co-op at 414 Kearney St., where a bench behind the store was burned and in a vehicle on Taylor Street. The fires appeared to be intentionally set, police said.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jmcmacken@peninsuladaily news.com.

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