gavel and sounding block on desk

Prosecutor files charges in Auburn arson case

According to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Miguel Ricardo Kirschnick and two friends lit two fires in the basement of a house under construction on the chilly night of Nov. 14, 2019, because they enjoyed the heat.

But the fires got out of control and ultimately destroyed the house at 33270 1st Place Southeast before the man building it had a chance to call it a home.

On Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, King County Senior Prosecutor Dana Cashnan filed one count of first-degree arson against Kirschnick, 22.

Cases are pending against his friends, too.

At Kirschnick’s bail hearing, Cashman asked the court to hold him in jail on $250,000 bail, arguing that he was not likely to make his first appearance, but was likely to interfere with the administration of justice.

“The defendant said they had gone to the site to steal items from the construction site to sell,” Cashman told the court. “They broke into the cabs of various pieces of construction equipment and drove them around the property, damaging them. He admitted that he and his friends had built the fire for no real reason except that they were enjoying the warmth of the fires.”

Insurance has paid out more than $1.6 million for the loss of this home.

Here, according to to the Certification for Determination of Probable Cause written by Michael Day, the King County Sheriff’s Office fire investigator, is what happened.

Once the three had lit the first fire in the basement area, they set a second one under a flight of stairs. When they went outside, according to the report, they saw that the fire was extremely large and out of control. They had cell phones with them, yet they didn’t try to call 911. And despite the availability of fire extinguishers in the cabs of construction equipment on the property, they didn’t try to kill the fires. Indeed, according to the report, Kirschnick used one to break one of the windows on a bulldozer.

According to the court documents, four fire engines, two aid units and other first units responded to the scene and expended considerable time and effort to get the fire under control, putting the lives of numerous fire personnel in danger near heat so intense, it scored and damaged nearby trailers that were at the construction site to store equipment and serve as office space.

Based on fingerprints taken at the scene, the King County Sheriff’s Office was able to determine the identity of one of Kirschnick’s accomplices. This accomplice at first said Kirschnick alone was responsible for setting the fires and for driving a forklift into the nearby woods before high centering it on a stump.

Later, according to Day’s account, this same man later admitted he had moved several boxes that he had found in the basement to another area, while Kirschnick and the third party gathered plastic and boxes from upstairs. All these things were placed into one pile and set ablaze.

He told detectives that Kirschnick had later set a bigger fire under the stairs using some bigger boxes and some of the plastic.

Kirschnick was arrested in a McDonald’s parking lot in Burien at 1 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2020.

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