‘Known offender’ charged with setting fire to municipal property

By Julia Ornedo

A man passing through Olympia, described by the police as a “known offender”, is accused of having set fire to a property belonging to the city of Olympia.

Matthew Colin Hickerson, 27, was arrested Sept. 26 after 523 Franz Anderson Road SE, a city-owned structure, burned down for the second time that day.

While driving to Franz Anderson’s address, police spotted a man near Interstate 5 and Pacific Avenue carrying a “smoking box” and walking away from a shopping cart that contained a fire.

A fire lieutenant told police he and his crew extinguished the fire on Franz Anderson and then responded to I-5, where a shopping cart and tires were set on fire. About two minutes after the caddy fire was extinguished, city property was ablaze again.

A trail connected the location of the caddy fire and Franz Anderson’s property in the woods, the lieutenant said. The trail led police to where they last saw Hickerson carrying the smoking box.

The lieutenant said the fire was started deliberately, adding that the incident was consistent with Hickerson’s modus operandi, which he was familiar with because the suspect lived near an I-5 off-ramp.

Two witnesses, who live across from the city-owned property, also told police they saw a man who matched Hickerson’s description right outside their home. They said Hickerson walked away from the Franz Anderson structure just before it caught fire.

The lieutenant said Hickerson is known for gathering wood and lumber and then lighting it on fire. One of the witnesses also recalled being asked by Hickerson where he could get firewood a day before the fire at the Olympia property.

Police located Hickerson in the 3500 block of Pacific Avenue SE. Both witnesses positively identified him as the man they saw near the town property and the man who asked about the firewood.

Hickerson was incarcerated in Thurston County Jail for second-degree arson. He declined to provide details of the incident, but continued to ask an officer to help him be released.

Police said his clothes were kept as evidence because they were “covered in soot and smelled of gasoline”. Two lighters were also found in his pocket, according to the police report.