Pullman Police arrest plumber in connection to Grove apartment fire

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by KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 22 at 11:17 PM

PULLMAN, Wash.--Police announced Monday that they have arrested a suspect in connection to "The Grove" apartment fire.

The Pullman Police Department arrested Bryan Lee Kitchen, 31, Monday in connection with the July 14th fire. 

Authorities said Kitchen had accompanied detectives to the Pullman Police Department for an interview and made admissions to officers that lead them to believe he had set the fire. Kitchen worked for a plumbing sub-contractor at the construction site but he did not give a reason why he started the fire.

Officials said Kitchen had been a person of interest since the morning of the fire when his unoccupied car  was seen near the fire scene by police.

Detectives said they had talked with Kitchen periodically during the course of the scene investigation.

Kitchen was booked on a charge of first degree arson and will be transported to Whitman County Jail.

The Whitman County Prosecuting Attorney and the U.S Attorney's Office in Spokane will be reviewing the case for possible federal prosecution.

Fire investigators said the fire appeared to have started in the middle of the complex and spread to three other buildings under construction.

The fire destroyed 88 units and burned all four buildings down.  The flames were so hot that officials said it cracked windows at a nearby research park 200 yards away. It also melted the siding off of several nearby apartment complexes.

Fire investigators said the fire is the largest and most complicated fire Pullman has experienced in the last 30 years.

The Grove was under construction. Students were set to move into the buildings in August.

Two nearby apartment complexes, Boulder Creek and Steptoe, suffered heat damage to the siding but all units are still usable. Several cars were also damaged by the heat.

Investigators estimated that the fire caused $13 million in damage.

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