Burning bed: Superior police say man ignited bed after couple's brief spat
A blind Superior man is being accused of setting a Monday morning fire at a 1116 Hughitt Ave. apartment building. James Leo Olson, 50, faces charges of arson of property other than a building and disorderly conduct. He appeared in Douglas County ...
A blind Superior man is being accused of setting a Monday morning fire at a 1116 Hughitt Ave. apartment building.
James Leo Olson, 50, faces charges of arson of property other than a building and disorderly conduct. He appeared in Douglas County Court for an initial appearance Tuesday.
Police reports indicate Olson started a mattress on fire while his girlfriend of three years, Lynn Anne Bergson, was sleeping. The two had been drinking prior to the incident and got into an argument when she wanted to go to bed and he wanted to stay up, according to reports and the criminal complaint. She fell asleep and woke to hear Olson saying he had ignited the end of the bed, police say.
"Bergson said she could see that the end of the bed she was in was indeed burning," Officer Thor Trone of the Superior Police Department wrote in his report.
Bergson tried to throw water on the fire with a kitchen pot but was unable to extinguish the flames. She then started banging on neighbors' doors to warn them.
Superior firefighters were called to the apartment at 2:54 a.m. and cleared the scene at 4:17 a.m.. An estimated $1,000 of structure damage and $1,500 in personal property damage were reported.
Superior police reports indicate approximately 20 people were outside the building when officers arrived. When police questioned Olson, he said he was smoking on the bed and it somehow started on fire.
"I do not believe that this fire was started by a cigarette or incidental contact of a lighter," Trone wrote in his report. He concluded it would have required a prolonged or intentional exposure to an open flame.
Olson later said he accidentally started the fire with his lighter while trying to light a cigarette, the criminal complaint said. Olson said he has been smoking for 30 years and has been blind for 24. He said that Bergson was very drunk that night but he was not, the complaint stated. He told Investigator Adam Poskozim that he had never had any other fires.
A preliminary hearing for Olson is scheduled on June 27. He was released on $500 cash bail with conditions of making no contact with Bergson, not drinking alcohol and not possessing controlled substances or drug paraphernalia.
Maria Lockwood covers public safety. E-mail mlockwood
@superiortelegram.com or call (715) 395-5025.