RACINE — A Racine man is facing charges for allegedly starting a fire by failing to extinguish a marijuana joint he had smoked in bed.
The fire, which occurred on the 4100 block of Olive Street on June 25, 2017, reportedly caused $142,133 in damage. The man — Bryan J. Velasco, 29 — was a tenant in a lower unit, but did not own the home.
Velasco was initially charged with misdemeanor negligent handling of a burning material in June 2018, but stopped showing up in court hearings a few months later. Then, on Wednesday, he returned to court under a warrant, allowing the case to move forward again. Online court records indicate that Velasco had been living in Horicon, which is in Dodge County.
Velasco is next scheduled to appear at the Racine County Law Enforcement Center on Nov. 22.
According to the criminal complaint, Velasco admitted to having smoked a joint while in bed on the morning of June 25, 2017, but left the still smoking joint on a table. He then went outside to smoke a tobacco cigarette. When he went back inside, he said the bedroom was already engulfed in flames, according to the Racine Police Department’s report.
He reportedly called in the fire when he discovered it, but told dispatchers that a bonfire got out of control. He then allegedly left the scene. He said he left because he was both drunk and high.