Firefighters fight a blaze in Tukwila on Sept. 4 at Bakers Commodities. A 40-year-old homeless man has been charged with arson in connection with that fire and several others. COURTESY PHOTO, Tukwila Police Department

Homeless man charged with arson in Tukwila fires

  • Friday, September 15, 2017 3:45pm
  • News

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has charged a 40-year-old homeless man in a string of fires, including two in Tukwila.

James Lynn Goad Jr., who came to the area from Arkansas, was charged with four counts of second-degree arson on Sept. 8.

He was arrested on Sept. 6 and booked into the King County Regional Justice Center in Kent. Bail was set at $250,000. Arraignment is set for Thursday, Sept. 21, at the Regional Justice Center.

First to burn was a railroad welding truck on Aug. 28 close to the BNSF tracks near the 5700 block of South 130th Place, said Marty Grisham, Tukwila’s emergency manager.

That fire reportedly caused $250,000 of damage, according to court documents.

The second fire started as a tractor-trailer blaze in the same area on Sept. 4.

Upon arrival, crews found a tractor-trailer fully engulfed in flames, according to a media release from the Tukwila Fire Department. The truck was 5 feet from Baker Commodities, and the building and a grassy area caught fire.

Nearby railroad tracks were shut down for a short time while crews worked to extinguish the fire, the release said. The fire caused about $75,000 of damage, according to court documents.

Goad is also accused of setting fire to two tractor-trailers on Aug. 28 along Beacon Coal Mine Road, according to charging documents.

Investigators determined the fire was set in the sleeper compartment of a truck. The fire spread to a truck next to it. Both vehicles had extensive damage. The fire also damaged the rear of a cargo box in front of the sleeper semi.

The property owner said in court documents there have been problems with homeless people coming onto the property and getting into parked vehicles.

Another fire was set at the same property on Sept. 5. A witness reported seeing Goad setting the seat of a track hoe (backhoe used for a railroad) on fire.

When Goad tried to set a cab on fire, the witness interrupted him, court documents say.

The witness said Goad threatened him with a steel ball bearing that he later dropped on the road. Goad reportedly told the witness, “You can’t stop me and I will do it again.”

The King County Sheriff’s Office set up a K-9 unit to track Goad but couldn’t find him. He was believed to have escaped southbound along the BNSF railroad track that runs parallel to Beacon Coal Mine Road.

Investigators found that someone had set fire to a large manual that had been on the floor board of the Peterbilt semi and tried to light up the seat of the track hoe parked 40 feet from the semi. Investigators also found shoe prints leading from the semi to the track hoe.

BNSF Railroad Police, who were also investigating the arson, informed investigators an air card, along with a Dell laptop, had been taken from one of the burned vehicles, and that they were able to track it to the woods along Beacon Coal Mine Road.

Investigators found Goad under a brown tarp in the wooded area on Sept. 6 and arrested him. Investigators found shoes with a tread pattern identical to the one found in the previous scene. They also found multiple BNSF safety jackets, pens and a pair of boots that had been taken from the burned BNSF truck.

Goad is also the prime suspect in two fires started in Renton, including a pickup at Republic Recycling that was set on fire and a fire set inside a building.

He has been previously charged with violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act and criminal mischief in Arkansas, as well as riding outside of a train and resisting arrest in Illinois.

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