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Story Last modified at 5:21 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Arson suspected in Peters Creek fire
Anchorage man arrested for weekend blaze

Alaska Star

Authorities say an Anchorage man intentionally started a fire Sunday afternoon at a well-known property in Peters Creek.

The fire on Rambler Way involved a 40-foot mobile home with a lean-to on property associated with the Yates family, a Chugiak Volunteer Fire Department spokesman said.

Anchorage police arrested Kyle Smith, 21, of Anchorage for second-degree arson and third-degree criminal mischief, according to police spokeswoman Marlene Lammers. Smith was lodged at Anchorage Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.

The Alaska State Fire Marshal's Office continues to investigate the fire's cause. Evidence will be forwarded to the state crime lab for processing, Lammers said. Few additional details were available as of press time.

Firefighters arriving at the property around 2:25 p.m. Sunday found the mobile home burning so hot they couldn't enter, so they fought the flames from outside, Chugiak fire spokesman Jeff Hartley said. Crews had the fire under control in 20 minutes and extinguished by 3:12 p.m.

Anchorage police arrived at the property before firefighters did, Hartley said. Officers already had Smith in handcuffs.

Callers to 911 described "a huge fire" at a building at the Yates property and said trees were catching on fire too, Lammers said.

The family property on Sunnyside Drive is known as an "officer safety location," according to previous reports in the Star. In 2006, the family's Rottweilers threatened elementary-age children boarding a school bus.

Police not long after retrieved truckloads of stolen goods from the Yates residence on Sunnyside Drive, though no charges were filed against family members.

Patriarch Ellis Yates in 2007 was charged with assaulting an officer after he hit the officer on the arm as he attempted to arrest a woman on Yates property, according to previous reports. Yates helped the woman into the house and slammed the door.

Court records indicate that Ellis Yates died in 2008.

Smith's connection to the family was unclear.

A database of state court records showed that Smith has a long rap sheet despite his relatively young age. Past arrests include assault, DUI, criminal mischief, weapons misconduct, and disorderly conduct.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 11, 2011.