Man charged with arson in fire that damaged downtown Anchorage house

By Tess Williams

Updated: August 29, 2023 Published: August 28, 2023

Police say a downtown Anchorage fire Sunday afternoon that seriously damaged a house was intentionally set by a man described in charging documents as using tiki torches to start the blaze.

The Anchorage Police Department morris-charged-in-arson-fire-on-h-street”said in an update Monday that officers located 35-year-old Gary Stephen Morris about a block from the fire after a witness described a shirtless man matching his description walking away from the burning building.

The fire at 810 W. Eighth Ave. was reported around 3:30 p.m. and sent a thick plume of smoke into the sky. The building sits between Skinny Raven Sports and a branch of Credit Union One. Anchorage firefighters and police responded. Police said the house was unoccupied due to ongoing renovations.

Morris was carrying a 6-foot metal pipe when he was contacted by officers, police said.

He was medically evaluated and told a first responder that he started the fire, according to a summary of police reports written by Assistant District Attorney Alice Curci and filed with charges, including arson.

Morris was brought to the police department, where he told detectives that he broke a window of the house and lived there for several days last week before the owners found him and told him to leave, according to the summary.

The owners did not report Morris’ first break-in to police, and he entered the house again on Sunday by pulling off a wooden board over a window he previously broke to gain access, the summary said.

“Morris said he was angry and frustrated due to people stealing his property and constantly accusing

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