Man Charged With Arson In String Of Fires

SEATTLE - A 32-year-old laborer has been charged with four counts of arson in connection with a string of fires set at his North King County apartment complex last month and at a North Seattle home last year.

Two of the apartment fires were set July 14. The third was set July 16.

Kevin Todd Swalwell was arrested after a King County detective who suspected him in the 1994 house fire learned that he lived in the complex that was getting repeatedly torched.

King County prosecutors note in charges filed yesterday in Superior Court that all four fires were similarly set.

One of the residents at the Echo Lake Apartments complex, in the 19500 block of Aurora Avenue North, suffered smoke-inhalation injuries during one of the fires.

The complex consists of one 12-unit building and another with fewer units.

The Feb. 21, 1994 house arson occurred while Swalwell was living in the neighborhood with his grandmother. At the time, he allegedly blamed the fire on his cousin, who subsequently passed a polygraph.

Detectives were immediately tipped to Swalwell in that case because the arsonist used the Feb. 17, 1994, edition of The Seattle Times to build the fire. When a member of the victims' family asked Swalwell's grandmother if she had seen anything, he noticed part of the Feb. 17 edition on her table.

With her permission, he checked her recycling bin and when he could not find the rest of that day's edition, he notified police.

Charging documents did not suggest a potential motive.

Swalwell has a 1983 arson conviction.