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'Fresh start' to life ends with homeowner facing arson charge

A 33-year-old town of Martell man has been criminally charged by the Pierce County district attorney with trying to burn down his house. The fire snuffed itself out but left extensive smoke damage to the inside.

The felony complaint says the man first lied to a state arson investigator and a sheriff's deputy about what happened before finally confessing to the arson. He claimed to be financially strapped and found it hard to make his home mortgage payments.

The complaint says the man "indicated that the purpose of burning the house was to start things fresh, start a new pace and get some stress out of his life and that house is stress." He allegedly poured gas throughout the house to fuel the flames.

After the arson attempt, the man went to watch movies with his brother. He returned to check on his house, went inside and allegedly began lighting matches in a second effort to rekindle the house blaze.

For more on this story, please check the Aug. 6 print edition of the River Falls Journal.