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Story Last modified at 6:03 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Accused arsonist is Yates relation

The 21-year-old Muldoon resident accused of intentionally setting a trailer on fire at the Yates property on Rambler Way is a family member, Anchorage police said.

Police have charged Kyle Smith with second-degree arson and criminal mischief after he was arrested at the fire around 2 p.m. May 8. An investigation continues into the fire's cause.

Smith told officers that he and William "Boo" Yates got into an argument over the family's plans to sell the Peters Creek property, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said. "Smith said the grandchildren should take possession of the property instead of selling it," Shell said. He also said he went to the liquor store with his mother and came back to find the trailer on fire, she said.

Boo Yates told officers another story, Shell said: Smith came to the house looking for drugs and got angry when he was told to leave empty-handed. The trailer was Yates' residence, Shell said, and insured.

Smith's mother, meanwhile, said she did take her son to the store but he acted strangely, telling her he loved her, before they got close to the property and Smith said he saw smoke. "(She) was sure Kyle started the fire," Shell said, reading from a police report.

Officers arrived to find the trailer "fully engulfed in flames" with four or five people standing outside one of many outbuildings, Shell said. Smith initially didn't cooperate with officers when they asked him to get on his knees. He smelled strongly of alcohol, she said.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.

Charges are merely accusations; defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in at trial or until a plea of guilty is accepted by the courts.