Suspect charged in East Broadway apartment fire


MISSOULA, Mont. - We have new information about the East Broadway apartment fire that displaced over 40 Missoula residents last week.

According to court documents 28-year-old Missoula resident Travis Crosby confessed to starting the fire at the Vantage Villa apartment complex, owned by Missoula Housing Authority, on June 13.

Prosecutors say Crosby admitted to detectives that he intentionally started the fire after he was served an eviction notice.

"This is essentially as a result of his pending eviction and the fire was an outlet for the anger he was feeling," said Jason Marks, the Deputy County Attorney for Missoula County. "It sounds like he's done this before on a much smaller scale as an outlet for his anger and I'm concerned under the current circumstances that he poses a danger to the community."

During an interview Crosby originally blamed the fire on a cousin smoking cigarettes, but later said his cousin was not in his apartment and that he intentionally set the fire.

The affidavit says Crosby lit one of his apartment chairs on fire using matches and that he made statements that he wanted to burn the apartment complex down.

When NBC Montana spoke to Crosby's neighbor James Herrick he didn't seem surprised something like this happened.

"I see it's Travis's apartment and I thought he was burning in there maybe because he got evicted," said Herrick. "I thought he was depressed or something."

Court documents say fire damage is estimated at roughly $3.5 million.

"They did bring some stuff out, some clothing but it just reeks like smoke," said Herrick. "I was in the far corner above and away his apartment but everything is pretty much totaled."

Fire officials tell us Vantage Villa has 40 units. At least six suffered major fire damage and 12 had major water damage. Every resident is displaced and they're still waiting for permanent housing.

"Now they have us over at the Red Lion Inn and they have relocation people who are coordinating getting us into apartments right away," said Herrick.

The Missoula Housing Authority complex houses seniors and folks with special needs. Herrick says it's been a tough adjustment.

"It's kind of rough on everybody but they're accommodating us so it's going to work out OK," he said.

No word yet on when displaced residents will be set up with permanent housing.

If convicted of felony arson, Crosby could spend up to 20 years in state prison and/or pay a $50,000 fine.

Click here view the court document.