Preliminary hearing scheduled for accused arsonist

BISMARCK, N.D. - The man accused of starting a fire at Washington Courts last week will have his preliminary hearing a month from now.

Forty-five-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez is accused of starting the apartment fires and displacing more than a dozen people.

He’s charged with arson, two counts of criminal mischief and criminal trespass.

The affidavit says Rodriguez is accused of breaking into Washington Courts overnight on June 5. He tells police he started the fire accidentally with a cigarette. Police found lighter fluid and a butane lighter inside Rodriguez’s backpack.

Officers say there’s surveillance video of a man matching Rodriguez’s description entering the building around midnight.

Documents say Rodriguez has a bruised rib, a sprained ankle and cuts to his arms. Rodriguez told detectives he jumped out of the third-story bedroom window to escape the fire.

Rodriguez is also accused of breaking a window at Pier One Imports to get in.

He’s being held at the Burleigh Morton Detention Center on a $50,000 bond.