SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah, July 3, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — South Salt Lake police have charged a suspect with aggravated arson and aggravated burglary, both first-degree felonies, after he reportedly admitted to setting a blaze in the residence of an acquaintance.
Jessie Ray Bartley, 27, is being held without bail in the Salt Lake County Jail.
South Salt Lake Fire Battalion Chief Shane Conrad told Gephardt Daily that no residents were in the single family house when the fire started. Crews responded after being called at 6:25 p.m. Friday.
Firefighters found flames coming from the back of the residence, Conrad said.
“They got it under control really quick,” he said. “There were no injuries. A pet that was in the front yard was turned over to a neighbor to watch until the homeowner arrived.”
Conrad said 50% to 60% of the home’s contents sustained smoke, fire and water damage.
Bartley’s probable cause statement says a witness saw him fill a soda bottle with gasoline.
“The witness then followed the arrestee to the area of 39 E. Claybourne Ave. where he went between two houses. The witness then saw the arrestee again in the driveway of the house … look toward the house and then walk away,” Bartley’s affidavit says.
“The witness saw flames and smoke coming from the house. The fire department arrived and found the interior of the residence fully engulfed in flames. The same witness then noticed the arrestee watching the activity in the area and pointed him out to officers.”
Bartley was taken into custody.
“Post-Miranda, the arrestee admitted to climbing through a back window of the house, pouring gasoline in the living room, and lighting it with a lighter,” the South Salt Lake Police officer’s statement says.
“Arrestee then exited through the same window and poured additional accelerant through the back window. The homeowner was acquainted with the arrestee and said he did not have permission to enter his residence.”
The arresting officer asked that Bartley be held without bail, to which a judge agreed, due to the seriousness of the crime, the evidence, and the fact that he has no family or home address in the area, making it more likely he would flee if released.
“Arrestee lit a residential structure on fire, causing extreme danger to the entire neighborhood and firefighters and therefore is an obvious danger to the community,” the statement says.