A federal grand jury in Alaska has returned an indictment against 24-year-old Paul Bates of Anchorage, charging him with intentionally starting a fire in an apartment building on October 30, 2022.
According to the U.S. Attorney S. of the District of Alaska, and the ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge, the incident stemmed from a dispute between Bates and a neighbor, who refused to give him a cigarette.
Following the dispute, Bates ignited three fires within his own apartment unit before leaving the scene. Within minutes, the fire spread to multiple units, prompting residents to evacuate the building.
Bates was apprehended on the same day as the fire and now faces one count of arson. His initial court appearance is pending, and if convicted, he could be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison.