Two suspects arrested in connection with seven arson fires - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Two suspects arrested in connection with seven arson fires

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Yakima, WA -  An informant tip helps fire investigators crack several arson cases that date back to this past summer and into 2006.

Two suspects have been arrested in connection with seven different fires that caused more than $100,000 in damages.

Court documents reveal some unsettling details in this investigation.

The two suspects, who have been arrested, are linked to a group that called themselves the "Mayday Mob." 

Several other members of the "Mayday Mob" are mentioned in court documents related to the charges against these two suspects, but no additional arrests have been made yet.

Investigators say the men in this group ranged in age from 18 to 22 years old.

They even had a ‘MySpace' page, which says one of their interests included "pulling hilarious pranks."

Like the more traditional mafia, an informant has apparently done them in.

A call by that person to the Yakima Sheriff's Office just before the New Year helped break open these arson cases.

The judge doesn't consider the fires to be pranks and the $100,000 bail for each suspect seems to back that up. 

Nicholas Heilman appeared in court this afternoon.  He faces seven counts of second degree arson.

The other suspect, Eric Protsman, faces one count of second degree arson

Heilman and Protsman have admitted involvement in the fires in court documents.

"This is where the fire happened," says Dick Hansen, Principal of Robertson Elementary School.

Hansen points to two sections of junipers, each about twenty feet long, that were set on fire in the Robertson Elementary parking lot this past August.

In those court documents, Protsman says Heilman told him to light the junipers on fire. 

Hansen says the fire caused $4,000 in damages. 

"That could be four new computer stations," says Hansen, "That's a lot of money to a school."

Heilman, Protsman and possibly others have been linked to seven fires, all within the Yakima city limits, at this point.

The first one happened almost two years ago on April 22nd, 2006.

Four more happened in the early morning hours between 12:45am to 5:21am on August 26th, 2007.

There were two more on October 6th and October 10th.

The fires ranged from shrub fires, to bin fires to a vehicle fire, which, according to court documents, was set on fire in retaliation because the vehicle's owner got into a fight with one of their friends.

"By the nature of an ongoing investigation, it means it's still going on and more arrests are possible, but we can't say much at this time," says Ron Melcher, Fire Marshal of the Yakima Police Department.

Fire investigators have been tight lipped about the investigation, but say that along with more arrests, more charges are possible too.

In other words, they think there is a possibility that the suspects are responsible more fires.
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