Woman charged with first-degree arson in Port Ludlow fire

Hatton released on personal recognizance Monday

PORT TOWNSEND — A Jefferson County woman has been charged with first-degree arson following the investigation of a fire on a porch at a Port Ludlow residence.

Julie Ann Hatton, 53, was arrested Friday after a bench warrant was issued in Jefferson County Superior Court.

She was charged Thursday for the October incident and released Monday from the Jefferson County Jail on her personal recognizance after a pre-trial conference in front of Judge Keith Harper.

Hatton is scheduled to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Hatton was house sitting at a residence on West Spruce Street when she called 9-1-1 to report a fire at 11:01 p.m. Oct. 15, Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy Art Frank wrote in a probable cause statement.

Hatton had notified a neighbor, and they both worked to extinguish the fire, court documents said.

The neighbor reported Hatton had arrived 20 to 30 minutes before the fire started, according to the report.

In the days that followed, East Jefferson Fire-Rescue Assistant Chief Brian Tracer determined the fire could have been started with a cigarette lighter by igniting the wind screen, court documents said.

“The fire damage is limited to the exterior front porch area,” Frank wrote in the probable cause statement. “The porch has wind screen draped around the three exterior sides that burned slowly and the melted plastic material dripped onto the wood deck and railing, causing the porch to burn.”

At the time, the double wide mobile home was unoccupied, court documents said, but it’s only 15 to 20 feet away from other occupied structures on both sides and behind it.

There was no damage estimate listed in the report.

Frank said he reviewed surveillance footage and identified Hatton smoking in the front yard about 10:30 that evening.

Seven minutes later, “light flashes up and shines through the plastic roof,” Frank wrote.

About 90 seconds afterward, Hatton appears on the video walking into the area where the fire was ignited, according to the report.

Frank said the fire was slow to grow, but light increased gradually until Hatton and the neighbor appeared to extinguish the fire at 11:01 p.m.

When Frank interviewed Hatton on Nov. 19, she denied being on the property before the fire started, according to the report.

“She was clearly in view of the camera,” Frank said. “This was not consistent with the video before the fire and at the time of ignition.”

Hatton told Frank she’d known the owner of the mobile home for 40-plus years and that there were no problems between the two. Frank said he obtained emails from 2018 from the victim, and in those emails, Hatton accused the victim of cyberstalking her.

On one occasion, Hatton said she wanted to harm herself based on his actions, according to the report.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at bmclean@peninsuladailynews.com.

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