An Idaho Falls man was arrested Friday after he admitted to starting a fire on Hoopes Avenue.
Eric Holland Bagge, 40, called an Idaho Falls Police Department Detective on Friday saying he had information about “drugs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, shootouts, and a house getting set on fire,” according to a police report.
Police were investigating a fire from the day before that had started near a residence on the 1200 block of Hoopes Avenue. The Idaho Falls Fire Department concluded the fire had started in nearby bushes and was unlikely to have been accidental.
A detective spoke to two people at the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission who knew Bagge and had received a voicemail from him about the fire.
“Well, I guess I wasn’t very good at leaving town. There was an 18-year-old and a young child inside the house ... and I knew where it was and they called me and I couldn’t get them out so I lit the house on fire,” Bagge said in the voicemail, according to a police report. “I think they got out, I’m not positive. And now I’m leaving town.”
Police had responded to a disturbance at the same house the same day the fire started. Residents of the Hoopes Avenue home told police they didn’t know about the disturbance.
Bagge met with the officers and said a young man had started the fire. He told police someone was trying to kill him because of debts he owed for drugs. He was arrested, and police found several knives and lighters on him. A tool bag he brought to the meeting with officers contained syringes, a baggie of white residue, a pill container, and an energy drink can with a secret compartment.
Bagge admitted to starting the fire, saying he was trying to free someone being held hostage in the residence. He said he reported the fire to 911, and the detective found a recording of his 911 call.
Bagge was charged with first-degree arson, punishable with up to 25 years in prison. He is being held on a $25,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 18 in Bonneville County Courthouse.