Thursday, November 15, 2012
There is an admitted arsonist serving out his 35
year prison term at the Monroe Correctional Center who was a front page
news story and a household name in this state 17 years ago as the man
behind one of the most deadly arson fires in Northwest history.
was the Mary Pang frozen food warehouse fire Jan. 4, 1995 in Seattle's
International District that killed four Seattle firefighters when a
floor collapsed underneath them plunging all of them into a burning
Because the building was so old and no
construction details were available, the fire department did not know
there was a basement below the first floor.
Killed in the inferno were Lt. Walter Kilgore, Lt. Gregory Shoemaker and firefighters Randall Terlicker and James Brown.
other firefighters inside managed to escape the collapse, one of them
by hanging on to the remaining floor and pulling himself to safety.
FAMILY SON WAS PRIME SUSPECT
Pang, the son of the warehouse owners quickly became a prime suspect
and fled to Brazil where he eventually told two FBI agents from a jail
cell in that country that he had flown to Seattle from Los Angeles, set
the warehouse fire and then flew back to California to create an alibi.
Pang signed a formal confession in March 1995. He pleaded guilty in 1998.
But now his attorney says there is new evidence that Pang was not in the area when the fire was set.
attorney Jeff Ellis says during a review of the Martin Pang case file
in the King County Prosecutor’s Office he uncovered some that had been
kept secret and were not part of the trial, according to a new report by
KING TV in Seattle.
Ellis says what he uncovered were “sworn
statements by prosecutors and law enforcement officials and they swore
out in very definitive terms unequivocally that Mr. Pang was in
California at the time the warehouse fire was started,” according to the
report which can be found here
now says the confession that led to the guilty plea was coerced and he
has filed a new court motion claiming new evidence has been uncovered in
PANG BLAZE CHANGED THE WAY FIRES ARE FOUGHT
aftermath of the tragic Pang fire changed how the Seattle Fire
Department went about fighting fires as there were state fines levied
afterward for safety violations committed while fighting the fire and
lawsuits from families of the firefighters killed.
many safety improvements instituted later that firefighters of today
benefit from, including the fact that today department policies require
crews responding to a fire be alerted to arson threats and any other
Those who responded to the Pang fire did not have a building plan and had not a clue about the basement below.
crews at fire stations around the city do routine inspections on
buildings to become familiar with the layouts of those structures and
any potential hazards should a fire start in them, and hundreds of
building plans are now maintained in a department computer database.