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Press Release

Anchorage Man Charged with Arson for Lighting Apartment on Fire

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A federal grand jury in Alaska returned an indictment last week charging an Anchorage man with intentionally lighting an apartment on fire.

According to court documents, Paul Bates, 24, started a fire in an apartment building located on East 12th Avenue in Anchorage on Oct. 30, 2022. Bates lived in the apartment complex at the time and had just engaged in a dispute with a neighbor over the neighbor’s refusal to give Bates a cigarette. After the dispute, the defendant went into his unit, lit three fires and left the scene.

Court documents say the fire spread to multiple units after a few minutes, and residents began evacuating the building, which included a woman with a child on her back and a woman in a wheelchair. The defendant was arrested the same day as the fire.

Bates is charged with one count of arson, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §844(i). The defendant will make his initial court appearance on a later date. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker of the District of Alaska; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson made the announcement.

The ATF Seattle Field Division, with assistance from the Anchorage Police Department and Anchorage Fire Department, is investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Vandergaw is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Apartment building on fire as people leave the building.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska
Apartment building on fire as people leave the building.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Alaska



Reagan Zimmerman

Public Affairs Officer

Updated September 25, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-068