Cpl. Ronald Van Tassel
Tuesday, September 8, 2020 at 2:24 p.m.
On Labor Day there was a strong windstorm that hit eastern Washington. The storm knocked down numerous power lines, which sparked dozens of dangerous fires around the region. As this was happening, a female was going around east Spokane intentionally setting fires. An alert Officer, with the help several citizens were able to quickly get the fires under control and arrest a suspect shortly after.
On September 7th, 2020 eastern Washington and north Idaho was hit with a strong wind storm. We have not had rain in some time and the conditions were very dry. The wind knocked down tree’s and power lines, sparking dozens of life threatening fires around the region.
During all of this, Spokane Officer Mohondro was patrolling the area of 100 N Magnolia. 911 received a call of a fire in the area. Ofc Mohondro observed some grass and a pallet on fire outside of a commercial business. There were no power lines around and there did not seem to be a reason for the start of the fire unless it was human caused. Ofc Mohondro patrolled the area and a couple blocks away, spotted a fire in an alleyway. The fire was next to an old oil drum, which was up against a garage. There were tree’s overhead and the potential for the fire to explode into something much larger was very high. The Spokane Fire Department responded and put that fire out.
Ofc Mohondro noted that there was no apparent reason for this fire to start either except for it being human caused. Ofc Mohondro asked for more units to respond to the area to search for a possible suspect. Several citizens in the area had witnessed a female leaving both fire scenes and the description was the same for both. Officers responding to the area observed a female matching the description and they detained 36 year old, Christine Comello. Christine had lied about her name to Officers, but after figuring out who she was they discovered she had a felony warrant for Burglary and for Reckless burning. That charge stemmed from an incident in Spokane Valley two weeks ago where Christine had been setting fires at a business.
During yesterday’s incident, Officers found a couple witnesses who positively identified Christine as the person they saw leaving both fires. Officers later found surveillance video placing her at one of the fires. At the time of her arrest, Officers located a lighter and some burnt papers in her pocket.
Christine was booked for 2nd Arson for the fire in the grass next to the commercial building. She was charged with 1st Arson for the fire next to the garage. Officers later found out that a male was inside the garage during the fire and his life was potentially in danger. To start the first fire, Christine unlawfully entered into a fenced area to start the fire and was charged for burglary as well.
Officer John O'Brien