Arson charges dropped against firefighter

Attempted arson charges against a veteran Tukwila fire lieutenant were dismissed last week after another person claimed responsibility for trying to set fire to his house in Mountlake Terrace, the Snohomish County prosecutor’s office said Thursday.

The charge had been filed against Philip Scott Lyons, 48, who is back on the job, Tukwila Fire Chief Nick Olivas said. He was on administrative leave and had been assigned other duties since he was charged.

“We’re very happy about it,” Olivas said. “We’re definitely glad to get him back on shift.”

The charge was dropped after “another person accepted responsibility for the fire,” deputy prosecutor Jim Townsend said. He dismissed the case because someone else claimed responsibility, he said. He declined to identify the person who came forward, and would not say if it was a man or a woman.

“This person made statements to numerous people and statements officially” to Mountlake Terrace Police, Townsend said.

No decision has been made whether that person will be charged, Townsend said.

Lyons was charged in October following an investigation of a fire Aug. 10 on the side of his home. He reported the blaze about 11:30 p.m. after his wife spotted an unusual glow through a window, court documents said.

Lyons extinguished the fire with a garden hose. He told police he was working on his home computer when his wife alerted him.

A police dog was called in to track whoever was in the yard, and the dog went to the home’s front door.

Investigators found the charred remains of a napkin and a fire starter stuffed into the framing of the house. Fire starters are commonly used to ignite fireplaces and campfires.

The fire starter still had a Safeway wrapper on it. Lyons told investigators he had never purchased one there, but store records showed that the family’s Safeway Club Card had been used to purchase fire starters in July, documents said.

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or haley@heraldnet.com.

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