Man accused of setting van on fire because of dog

The van’s owner said he owed the man thousands of dollars for a German shepherd and drugs.

An Oak Harbor man is accused of setting a van on fire because he was mad at the vehicle’s owner over a disagreement involving a German shepherd, according to court documents.

Nobody was injured in the Sept. 28 fire on Southeast Midway Boulevard, but the van was destroyed and the fire spread to a nearby car and scorched an apartment building.

James S. Kiesel Jr., 35, appeared in Island County Superior Court Oct. 16. The judge found there was probable cause to believe Kiesel committed the crime of arson in the first degree and set his bail at $15,000.

The fire was reported at about 4 a.m. and firefighters quickly extinguished the flaming Dodge Caravan and the nearby car. The apartment complex with 11 occupied units was also damaged by the heat.

The fire appeared to have started in the area of the gas cap, according to the police report on the case.

The owner of the van said he owed Kiesel thousands of dollars for the German shepherd and drugs. The man said Kiesel stole the dog for a while and the van owner “had to beat him up a couple of times until Kiesel returned the dog,” the report states.

Police and firefighters tracked down video from multiple surveillance cameras in the area and were able to reconstruct Kiesel’s alleged movements that night, the officer wrote.

The videos showed the suspect being dropped off by another vehicle in the area, getting on a motorcycle, walking the bike up some stairs and then walking back up the stairs and going toward the victim’s van.

A video shows the suspect lighting a trail of “what looks like gasoline” leading to the van. The suspect grabs a gas can and runs away, the report states.

Kiesel has a lengthy criminal history that includes vehicle theft, attempting to elude, theft and tampering with a witness, according to court documents.

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