PORT ANGELES — A 29-year-old woman has been charged with first-degree arson and residential burglary in connection with a March 18 garage fire across the street from the Port Angeles Fire Station.
Amanda Jo Jarvis, 29 — whose address is listed as transient, Port Angeles, in the criminal information filed Monday — was in the Clallam County jail Wednesday on $51,500 bail on the Clallam County Superior Court charges and an additional first-degree criminal trespass case in District Court.
That charge stems from her alleged illegal entry into or presence at a First Street apartment building Friday shortly before she was booked into the county jail and was already a suspect in the arson case.
Jarvis will be arraigned Friday on the Superior Court charges.
Residential burglary, a Class B felony, is unlawfully entering or remaining in a dwelling with intent to commit a crime. First-degree arson is a Class A felony.
She also has a pending second-degree burglary case in Kitsap County Superior Court set for an April 1 status hearing.
The fire at 105 E. Fifth St. in Port Angeles was allegedly set on property owned by retired Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour.
It was reported shortly after 2:30 p.m. March 18 by a woman who lives in a house on the same parcel, according to the probable cause statement.
She reported to the Peninsula Communications dispatch center that smoke was billowing out of the garage, which the resident said is used as a spare bedroom, according to Port Angeles Police Officer Ron Cameron’s report.
The woman said Jarvis had been trespassing on the property for two days.
The blaze left the building intact but caused significant smoke and fire damage to the interior and destroyed a mattress.
Fire investigators dragged a blackened mattress out of the structure last Thursday afternoon during a mop-up operation.
Jarvis, interviewed by Port Angeles Police Detective Jeff Ordona, “admitted to being inside [the resident’s] spare room, feeling overwhelmed and bottled up, and to using a torch to set the bedding on fire,” according to the statement.
“After not seeing the fire department respond, she approached [the resident] and told her she’d better check the building,” Jarvis said, according to the statement.
The resident, who saw smoke billowing from the garage, called 9-1-1.
“The fire grew and caused significant damage before being extinguished by a crew of firefighters,” according to the statement.
During a search of the garage, a torch was not found, but a working disposable lighter was on the floor near a plastic container, Cameron said.
Jarvis said she found the “torch” under some fruit snacks in the garage, she told Ordona.
Cameron found the candy in a plastic container in the garage, he said.
The resident said she thought Jarvis believed she could be on the property by permission of a previous tenant.
Jarvis had told the resident’s neighbor that she was looking for Cody Coughenour, Brian Coughenour’s son, who no longer lives there.
The property has been the target of numerous city code-enforcement complaints over abandoned vehicles and debris. Cody Coughenhour said in an earlier interview that he was unable to get rid of people who were car camping on the parcel and staying in residences there.
The resident had taken Jarvis’ photo while she was on the property and shared it to police.
Jarvis was arrested the following day at a First Street apartment house where the apartment dweller said a woman he did not know had walked into his and two other apartments.
Jarvis was found in one of the bathrooms, according to the statement.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].