Spanish Fork man accused of lighting 4 fires at Provo apartment complex
PROVO, Utah — Criminal charges have been filed against a Spanish Fork man accused of setting several fires at a Provo apartment complex, allegedly with the hope of collecting insurance money.
Gabriel Bailey Hamilton, 21, was charged Tuesday in 4th District Court with two counts of aggravated arson, a first-degree felony; obstructing justice, a second-degree felony; and two counts of arson, a class B misdemeanor.
On Jan. 10, “two separate but nearly simultaneous fires were started at the University Park Apartments in Provo,” according to charging documents. One fire was started in a utility closet in the unit where Hamilton lives, and the other was in the laundry room at the complex located at 225 E. 700 North, in Provo.
“The fire in the utility closet had been set to burn directly beneath a propane line,” the charges state.
Outside the utility closet, investigators found diesel fuel on the floor. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire in the closet, however, before it reached the fuel on the floor.
In February, Hamilton was given an eviction notice. He moved out and management changed the locks, according to the charges.
About 10 days later, Hamilton and another man returned to the apartment. Witnesses recorded them reading the notices posted on the apartment door that stated, “Three-day notice to pay or vacate” and “Notice of abandoned property.” The other man then kicked in the door and both men entered and took items that were inside, the charges state.
“At approximately the same time … a fire was started in a storage room” located in the underground parking structure, according to the court documents. Firefighters found a wooden chair with cardboard stacked on top that had been set on fire.
Investigators determined the storage unit was one previously used by Hamilton, the charges state, and less than a week later, “another fire was started in the same storage closet.” Fire investigators determined that the fire was “an act of arson.”
Three days after that, on Feb. 25, Hamilton was pulled over by police near the apartment complex. A search warrant was obtained for his vehicle and investigators reported finding lighter fluid and an unopened bottle of a flammable liquid.
In July, police found the other man they believe was with Hamilton when he first returned to the apartment. That man told investigators that Hamilton “started one of the fires and intended to make an insurance claim,” and that he was also with him on the night of the first fire when the two “went to a gas station a couple of blocks from the University Park Apartments and filled a soda cup with diesel before returning to (the apartment),” according to the charges.
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