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Kelso man claims house, cars were subject to arson

Kelso man claims house, cars were subject to arson


In the early hours of Saturday morning, Kelso resident Kermit Kay said his house and the cars in his driveway were lit on fire.

Kay said he was driving a friend home around 2 a.m. when he got a frantic call from one of his roommates claiming the cars and house had been “firebombed.”

“I thought, my roommate is exaggerating. … This can’t be true,” Kay said.

But he said when he got back to his house, just north of the Flying K, there were police cars and fire trucks outside his house.

Kelso police were not available on Saturday to confirm the incident.

Kay said his roommate had been standing in the kitchen when he heard footsteps on the front porch.

“We have other roommates, so he thought it was one of us coming home,” Kay said. “But then he saw the flames out the window.”

Unable to get out the front door, Kay claimed his roommate ran out the back door, where he saw three people get into a “box-shaped car” and speed off. The roommate then ran back to the front of the house and managed to put out the fire on the siding, according to Kay.

“There was some singeing on the siding, and the paint got bubbled, but considering everything we got off pretty good,” Kay said. “It’s just the cars that are toast and nobody was hurt.”

Kay said it appears to him that someone tried to use a gas can to make a Molotov cocktail. He said all the windows of the cars were smashed out, and while only one was lit on fire, there was gas on other cars.

He said he thinks the perpetrators simply threw the gas can after lighting the first car on fire, perhaps hoping the house would catch on fire, but the flames didn’t spread.

Kay said he just moved to Kelso last year from Portland because he had thought it would be safer in a smaller town. However, he said between recent shootings in the Longview-Kelso area and this incident, he’s no longer sure.

“I bought the house to settle down and start a family, but I’m not sure if it’s safe,” Kay said. “I’m considering selling the house.”

He also said one of his roommates is considering moving out.

Kay is asking anyone in the community who might have information about the incident to come forward.


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