17-year-old charged in Fairbanks area arson investigations

Scenes from an unoccupied home fire on Chena Hot Springs Road.
Scenes from an unoccupied home fire on Chena Hot Springs Road.(Ryan Osborne/KTVF)
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 11:26 AM AKDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 3:34 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A 17-year-old from Interior Alaska has been arrested and charged in the arson investigation of the Two Rivers Lodge along Chena Hot Springs Road outside of Fairbanks and several other fires in the area.

The teenager was arrested by Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska State Fire Marshal’s Office on Thursday, according to a Friday morning online dispatch report. According to charging documents and a press release from the Alaska Department of Law, the teen has also been charged for his alleged role in six other fires in the area of Two Rivers and Pleasant Valley.

Troopers said the teenager became a suspect for the Two Rivers Lodge fire after they allegedly found surveillance footage of him filling up a gas can before the fire was set. The lodge was declared a total loss.

The dispatch said troopers obtained search warrants for the teen’s home, electronics and vehicle, where investigators claim to have uncovered digital and physical evidence related to the crime.

The teenager was subsequently arrested and sent to the Fairbanks Youth Facility, according to the dispatch. Troopers have charged the teenager with two counts of first-degree arson, five counts of second-degree arson, four counts of second-degree burglary and multiple counts of criminal mischief.

The minor will be tried as an adult, troopers wrote. According to the release from the Department of Law, trying minors as adults is permitted under Alaska law when they are 16 or 17 and charged with certain offenses, including first-degree arson.

The other charges stem from fires that occurred throughout this summer at the Pleasant Valley Thrift Store, the Pleasant Valley Community Center, the Wagons North Trading Post, the Grange Hall Community Center, and two residential homes along Chena Hot Springs Road.

In total, the minor faces 18 charges, according to court documents, and was arraigned Friday in Fairbanks District Court. His bail was set at a $1 million cash performance bond, according to the press release.

According to a signed affidavit from Deputy State Fire Marshal Kyle Carrington, the teen allegedly admitted to starting the fires during an interview with authorities.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety worked with wildlife troopers, the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Alaska State Park Rangers and the Alaska Division of Forestry during the months-long investigation.

According to troopers, residents in Interior Alaska also submitted tips and reports that contributed to the investigation.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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