12/22/2014

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Crime

Charges: 'Pretty heated' man gets lit, sets fire to neighbor's garage

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A 61-year-old Puyallup man, who was admittedly "pretty heated" over a stolen laptop, got lit and set fire to a neighbor's garage Monday night, according to charges filed in Pierce County Superior Court.

According to the charging documents, officers and Central Pierce Fire & Rescue personnel were called to the 2800 block of Ninth Street Southwest around 8:45 p.m. Monday after someone ignited a stack of firewood piled alongside a detached garage.

Firefighters and a neighbor put out the fire but not before it charred the garage's wall and broke out windows, according to the charging documents.

Officers could smell gasoline at the scene and spoke to a neighbor who told them he saw Kenneth Balduff running away from the flames while holding a red gas can.

The neighbor yelled, "Are you serious!" And, Balduff, who lives in a nearby trailer, reportedly yelled back, "[Expletive] yeah!" before driving off in his truck.

The neighbor, as well as a second neighbor and the owner of the garage, told police they had been confronted by Balduff earlier in the day about a laptop he claimed had been stolen from his trailer.

According to the charging documents, Balduff came to the Puyallup Police station himself the morning after the fire to discuss the missing laptop, which he had already reported stolen the previous day.

He reportedly told police he was "pretty heated" about his missing laptop and had to confront his neighbors multiple times because they kept giving him false information. He said the last time he tried to talk them, they told him to go away or they would beat him up.

According to the charging documents, Balduff told police he went to dinner around 6:45 p.m. Monday and didn't remember anything -- due to having consumed a lot of alcohol during the day -- until waking up in his truck at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday near Snoqualmie Pass.

Officers searched Balduff's truck, which smelled of gasoline, but didn't find a gas can. They did find a pair of fighting knuckles with sharp tips in his pocket, according to the charging documents.

Balduff has been charged with arson and possession of a dangerous weapon.

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