KINGSTON — A Kingston man was sentenced on March 6 to 21 months in state custody for setting fire to the Blue Water Inn.
Stephen Damien Geisner, 60, pleaded guilty to first-degree arson on Feb. 17, eight days after he was arrested on suspicion of causing the fire. He will be turned over to the custody of the Department of Corrections “within the next several days,” sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said.
The fire forced the evacuation of the Blue Water Inn on Highway 104 in Kingston. There were no injuries reported. The 21-room inn is temporarily closed.
Dylan Umphress, who was staying at the inn with his girlfriend the night of the fire, said he was awakened that night by the sound of a man banging on a room door, followed by a verbal exchange. Umphress said he went back to sleep and, about 10 minutes later, “I heard a loud boom and crackling above us.”
The back corner of the hotel was on fire — “the whole back end of it,” Umphress said.
That was at 3:44 a.m. Hotel staff evacuated the inn, and firefighters got the fire under control within 20 minutes and fully extinguished 10 minutes after that. Shortly after, Geisner was arrested by sheriff’s deputies in the forested area behind Village Green Community Center and reportedly told deputies he set the fire.
The fire rendered six rooms uninhabitable but caused heat and fire damage to much of the inn. The owners closed the inn. Several residents who depend on the inn for low-cost housing were displaced.
During a bail study, Geisner told an investigator that he is divorced, homeless, unemployed and has a history of depression. At the time of his arrest, he had three outstanding misdemeanor warrants — one in Clallam County — for failure to appear.
Sixteen months earlier, on Oct. 27, 2015, Geisner sustained severe injuries when the 20-foot travel trailer in which he resided exploded at the Brazeau Mobile Home and RV Park, off Highway 104 west of Kingston. Sheriff’s deputies went to the park to check on him after a family member reported that Geisner suffered from mental health issues, was acting irrationally, and had talked about committing suicide.
Deputies detected a strong odor of propane gas, took cover, and tried to communicate with Geisner by phone. Fourteen minutes later, the trailer exploded, sending debris 30 feet into the air and 50 to 75 feet out.
Phone messages were left with Geisner’s brother-in-law and Geisner’s attorney from the Kitsap County public defender’s office.
According to state and county records, Geisner’s life has been a roller coaster ride. At one time, he had a hardwood flooring installation business, lived on Jefferson Beach Road and owned property. In 1987, he was convicted of second-degree possession of stolen property; in 1989, of carrying a weapon without a permit; in 1999, of negligent driving. He and his wife separated in 2001 and divorced in 2002.
In the last five years, he went to court for a string of misdemeanors: DUI, reckless endangerment, driving with a suspended license, vehicle prowl, criminal trespass. Then, the explosion at the trailer.
When he was arrested for the Blue Water Inn arson, deputies found Geisner crouched under a tree, holding a shower curtain rod, saying someone was trying to kill him. He told investigators he often went into the woods to hide from the “demons.”