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Man charged after allegedly setting fire to cars in Idaho parking lot

Michael Menard, an Idaho Falls man, has been charged with a felony after reportedly setting two cars on fire in a parking lot.

Michael Menard, an Idaho Falls man, has been charged with a felony after reportedly setting two cars on fire in a parking lot. (Bonneville County Jail)


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IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho Falls man has been charged with a felony after reportedly setting two cars on fire in a parking lot.

Michael Menard, 58, is charged with two counts of felony third-degree arson after allegedly setting two unlocked cars on fire in a business parking lot.

Idaho Falls Police were called to Western Transmission on Dec. 1 for a report that a man had set fire to two cars belonging to customers.

The owner of the business gave police security footage of the parking lot, which showed a man, later identified as Menard, "stumbling around the lot, entering several unlocked vehicles and setting fire to two of them on Nov. 25," according to court documents.

The video then showed Menard getting into a 1995 Ford F-150, where he "can be seen in the vehicle with a flashlight for several minutes," court documents state. Eventually, the documents say the surveillance footage showed a fire begin inside the vehicle.

"The fire burned for a short amount of time and then I could not observe any more fire. It appears that the fire burned and lost oxygen due to the closed doors and put itself out," a detective wrote in the report.

Officers then saw Menard walk up to a Bud Light van and enter it due to it being unlocked. Officers say they observed "a fire start inside the delivery vehicle, as the male walked to the west side of the parking lot."

According to court documents, Menard was "stumbling, and after stopping by the side of a vehicle, he walked through the parking lot and fell face first to the ground."

Menard was then "slow to get up" and "continued to stumble as he walked west through the neighboring business," according to the police report.

When officers searched the delivery van, they found "several cleaning type cloths that had been draped over the steering wheel." According to police, "this is not a normal location of cleaning cloth and were placed there to be set on fire."

While trying to locate Menard, officers visited a nearby gas station and asked the worker if they recognized a photo of Menard. The employee told officers he was a frequent customer and identified him.

On Dec. 14, officers were able to speak with one of Menard's family members, who confirmed that Menard was the man in the security footage.

The family member also told police that Menard has developmental delays and an alcohol problem, police say.

On Dec. 15, officers met with Menard and the family member. When asked by police if he draped rags over the steering wheel to set the cars on fire, Menard reportedly "nodded his head in affirmation," according to court documents.

A warrant was then issued for Menard's arrest, but he failed to appear in court for an initial appearance on Jan. 4.

A bench warrant was then issued and further scheduling has not been set. If convicted, Menard could face up to 20 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

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Kaitlyn Hart

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