Yakima triplex fire may have been arson

Fire occurred on same block where 14-year-old was killed last fall
Yakima Fire Department
Yakima Fire Department

YAKIMA, Wash. — Someone may have purposefully set fire to a triplex in Yakima on Wednesday, the fire department said.

The Yakima Fire Department says a call came in shortly after 7:30 a.m. about a fire at a triplex under construction in the 1100 block of Willow Street.

Firefighters “found an exterior fire that had moved into the interior of the single-story structure.”

Crews made up of 29 firefighters, some of them from the Yakima Training Center, worked for close to 90 minutes.

The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damage, according to Yakima Community Relations Specialist John Fannin, and no one was hurt.

YFD’s investigations division is looking into the cause of the fire and suspects it may have been set intentionally.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call YFD at 575-6060.

Trouble on the block

The fire happened on the same block where gang-related crime regularly occurs and a young teenager was shot and killed just months ago.

Charles Taylor died of a shotgun blast at his home in the 1100 block of Willow St. on Sept. 14, 2020. He was 14 years old.

 

YPD’s Gang Unit arrested the suspected shooter, a 17-year-old boy accused of “recklessly pointing the shotgun at several people inside the apartment before the gun was discharged, killing Taylor,” said Yakima Police Capt. Jay Seely.

The 17-year-old wasn’t previously named due to his age but has now been charged as an adult. Kent Anton Hewitt faces trial for first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. Trial is set for September but could be pushed back.

Hewitt is a felon and a documented gang member who has had at least 46 run-ins with officers, said Yakima police. The chief of police posted this emotional message featuring a teacher’s heartfelt letter after Taylor’s death.