Prosecution of an arson fire that destroyed $6 million apartment complex under construction in Salt Lake City earlier this month has been turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Salt Lake City Fire Department spokesman Jasen Asay on Tuesday confirmed that federal attorneys were now screening the case against Dustin Jay Bowman, 33, who was arrested Friday and booked into Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of second-degree felony arson.
Citing the ongoing nature of the investigation and the desire to protect its judicial integrity, neither Asay, nor Luke Franey, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Salt Lake City Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms office, would discuss Bowman’s alleged motives for the Feb. 9 fire.
In a joint statement released Tuesday, SLCFD and ATF said earlier suspicions that the fire, which gutted the 64,000-square-foot project at 550 E. 500 South, was arson had been confirmed.
"After five days of extensive scene examination and multiple interviews, investigators have ruled the cause of the fire to be incendiary," the agencies stated, but they declined to discuss specifics on exactly how the blaze had been set.
SLCFD Chief Kurt Cook said ATF’s expertise was especially appreciated, "Given the severity and significant financial impact of this incident."
Bowman, who remained behind bars Tuesday in lieu of $20,000 bail, had worked about two weeks as an electrician on the project. A probable cause statement included in booking documents notes that Bowman had acknowledged setting the fire, but it offers no explanation for why he did so.
Court records show Bowman has prior felony and misdemeanor convictions for drug offenses.
The four-alarm fire sent flames billowing into the nighttime skies and spread quickly through the complex’s exposed lumber and siding. The resulting glow could be seen as far away as Davis County.
No injuries were reported.
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