Martin Pang released from prison more than 20 years after setting blaze that killed 4 firemen

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Martin Pang, the man who set a fire that killed four firefighters in 1995, is a free man.

The state Department of Corrections confirmed that Pang was released from a Walla Walla prison about 7 a.m. Thursday (Sept. 27).

Pang served about 20 years of a 35-year sentence for four counts of first-degree manslaughter. His early releases date is based off earned “good time” while behind bars.

On January 5, 1995, Pang set fire to his family’s warehouse in Seattle’s International District to collect insurance money. Four firefighters – Lt. Walter Kilgore, Lt. Gregory Shoemaker, Randy Terlicker, and James Brown – died battling the blaze.

Following the deadly arson in 1995, Pang fled to Brazil to avoid extradition to the United States. While prosecutors back in Washington State originally charged him with four counts of felony murder, those charges were reduced to manslaughter in a deal that would guarantee Pang was returned for trial.

Pang will not have community supervision as part of his release. A DOC spokesman said there was "no allowance" for community supervision at the time of the crime. Had he been convicted in 2018, he would have a mandatory 36 months of community supervision.

He owes nearly a $1 million in restitution to victims' families, and DOC says there are no restrictions that would force Pang to remain in Washington state.

Q13's Brandi Kruse sat down Thursday morning with Mark Larson, King County's chief criminal deputy prosecutor, who oversaw Pang's prosecution.

"I think it's very difficult ... we think of our colleagues in the fire department and what that means for them, and, frankly, our community at large," Larson said. "Anybody who was here in 1995 remembers vividly those days and months after that fire, and sort of absorbing what that meant for our community at that time."

Watch Larson's full interview above.