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Man accused of starting several small arson fires in Missoula

Missoula Arsons Russell and Third
Posted at 10:21 AM, May 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 11:01:20-04

MISSOULA – A man who was arrested early Thursday morning is accused of setting several arson fires in Missoula.

Missoula Police Department Detective Lt. Eddie McLean says officers were called to the intersection of South Third Street West and Russell Street for a report of a male who had lit a tree on fire.

Law enforcement located Sean Staples, who McLean says threatened to cover the officer in gasoline and then light him on fire. According to a news release, Staples then began throwing gasoline at two officers and had a lighter in his hand. He was ultimately arrested with no injury to the officers.

McLean says MPD found five additional fires along the road, which were extinguished. No injuries were reported as a result of the fires. Staples admitted during a later interview with police that he bought socks so he could put them in vents or other exposed pipes. He claimed to accomplish this in at least two houses.

“This represents a significant health and safety concern,” McLean stated in a news release.

Residents in the area of South Third and Russell streets are being asked to check any external vents or exhaust ports. If any obstruction is located, residents are asked to call 9-1-1 so evidence can be collected.

Staples was arrested for six pending counts of Arson and two counts of Assault on a Peace Officer. He is being held in the Missoula County Detention Facility. He is scheduled to appear in Missoula Justice Court on Thursday afternoon.