Docs: Man with lengthy criminal history intentionally set several fires in downtown Redmond

King County Prosecutors (KCPAO) have charged a man who they say intentionally set several fires in downtown Redmond at apartment buildings and businesses-- all within the span of an hour.

Redmond Police and firefighters responded to six fires they say were intentionally set on July 29. 

According to court documents, the fires unfolded as follows (all in the span of under an hour) 

  • Redmond police responded to calls regarding an arson in-progress at the Avalon Parc Square apartments (16075 NE 85 St). A neighbor told officers that she smelled smoke and saw a cardboard box on fire from the vantage point of her balcony. The fire appeared to put itself out. Dispatchers were advised that firefighters were already responding to two fires nearby.
  • Officers responded to the Lionsgate North Apartments for reports that a side of a townhouse had been set on fire.  The fire appeared to die down on its own. The homeowner was worried about a possible electrical fire due to the proximity of the utility meters and breakers.
  • Two fires were reported at the downtown transit center on NE 83rd Street and the YMCA Family Village on 80th Street. 
  • Small fire at Chelsea Square apartments on 83rd Street. The fire department was able to put out a fire at one of the units. The patio was destroyed.

After looking at area surveillance footage, police saw a "suspicious man" appear at different locations where the fires were. 

Around 1:19 p.m., Two Redmond police officers radioed in that they were with a man who matched the suspect's description. 

The two officers were with the man, who was identified as 29-year-old Tanner Pipkin, near the Chelsea Square Apartments and the adjacent 7-Eleven on NE 83rd Street. According to court documents, Pipkin had a long butane lighter sticking out of his front pant pocket. 

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Pipkin was then detained on suspicion of starting the fires, but he denied his involvement.

Court documents say that at the time, he had an active warrant for his arrest for a theft incident. He was arrested on that warrant. 

Pipkin was charged with counts of first-degree arson, three counts of second-degree arson, and first-degree reckless burning for the alleged July 29 arsons. 

Although firefighters responded to six fires in that area, Pipkin has been charged for two of the fires. However, prosecutors say more charges could be pending as the investigation continues.  

"The defendant’s act of lighting a random, occupied dwelling on fire illustrates the extreme danger that he poses to the public. In addition, by setting multiple fires the defendant increased the possibility that emergency responders would not be able to get to all of the fires before they spread. Substantial bail is appropriate to protect the community. … The State [the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office] requests that bail be set at $750,000, as was set at the probable cause hearing, based on the likelihood that the defendant will fail to appear in response to a summons or that he may commit a violent offense," the KCPAO said. 

According to court documents, Pipkin also has had previous convictions for criminal trespass and theft. Court documents say Pipkin has had approximately nine warrants for his arrest for failing to appear in court since 2020.