'Jealous' Winlock Man Accused of Setting Fire to Occupied Car in Downtown Centralia

·1 min read

Jul. 24—A Winlock man is facing arson and malicious mischief charges after he allegedly set a car on fire in downtown Centralia with someone inside.

Case W. Van Kooten, 38, is accused of setting fire to a raft on top of a Subaru that was parked in the 110 block of South Tower Avenue. The owner of the Subaru was reportedly sleeping in the vehicle when he noticed the roof was on fire, according to court documents. He was able to safely exit the vehicle, but both the raft and the vehicle were completely destroyed.

Detectives responded to the car fire just after 2:15 a.m. on July 16 and began investigating the incident as a possible arson.

Police contacted Van Kooten after identifying him in video footage from local businesses.

When asked about the incident, Van Kooten allegedly admitted to starting the fire "as he was jealous of the relationship his girlfriend had with the owner of the Subaru," according to court documents.

While the incident reportedly occurred early on July 16, Lewis County Jail records indicate Van Kooten was booked into the jail on a separate case just after noon on July 15.

Bail was set at $50,000 bail for that other case, and Judge James W. Lawler set the same amount for the new case.

His next court appearance is an arraignment hearing scheduled for July 29.

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