Suspect in Pasco fires was ‘mad at police,’ court documents say

A suspect in dozens of suspicious fires around Pasco was mad at police for getting him kicked out of his house and leaving him homeless, according to court documents.

Abel Y. Contreras, 44, already has been connected to two fires in Pasco, including one that damaged the Supermex grocery store in October.

The Pasco man also is a prime suspect in other fires that have started in alleys north of downtown during the summer, police said.

Fire officials report there have been at least 55 suspicious fires in the city since June.

Contreras is charged with second-degree arson for the Oct. 18 fire at the grocery store and second-degree reckless burning for a fire that broke out Wednesday near Pearl Street.

He appeared Thursday in Franklin County District Court, where a judge ordered him held on $10,000 bail. Contreras is set to return to court in early September if no additional charges are filed.

Police continue to investigate whether he’s connected to other fires in the city.

A man matching Contreras’ description was spotted leaving the scene of Wednesday’s fire. Police arrested Contreras a short while later near 27th Avenue and Sylvester Street.

The suspect from the October fire was caught on a security camera, which showed he wore a head lamp and had a flashlight attached to the handle bars of a bicycle, court document said.

When police arrested Contreras on Thursday, a flashlight was reportedly attached to handlebars on his bike.

“(Contreras) is an exact match for the suspect that started the fire in the Supermex security camera footage,” Detective Jonathan Davis wrote in court documents.

Officials say it appears the suspicious fires were started with either a lighter or a match. They damaged a wide range of things, including a mother-in-law house, fences, a vehicle and grass.