Somers Man Charged with Attempted Arson

Lawrence Stephen Chain is accused of trying to light a Kalispell residence on fire that he believed his ex-partner resided in and driving recklessly through an emergency scene

By Maggie Dresser
A Flathead County Sheriff's Office vehicle. Beacon file photo

A 64-year-old Somers man accused of trying to light a Kalispell home on fire, vandalizing a vehicle, and driving recklessly through an emergency scene has been charged with a felony count of attempted arson, another felony count of criminal endangerment, and a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief.

Lawrence Stephen Chain was booked into the Flathead County Detention Center on June 4 on a $100,000 bond.

According to an affidavit filed by Deputy Flathead County Attorney Amy Kenison, emergency responders were dispatched to a report of a fire in the trees and in a ditch in front of a residence on Helena Flats Road in Kalispell at 3:20 a.m. Sunday morning. The reporting party, a newspaper delivery person, reportedly honked the horn and knocked on the door to alert residents of the fire.

When firefighters arrived, Chain allegedly drove a Toyota Tundra recklessly through the emergency scene twice, struck the firetruck mirror, forced at least one responder out of the way and ran over a fire hose.

A Flathead County Sheriff’s Office deputy performed a traffic stop and DUI investigation of Chain, who struggled to exit the vehicle, exhibited poor balance and smelled of alcohol and fuel, according to court records.

Emergency responders observed a gas can sitting on the handrail of the deck at the residence, gas poured on the side of the house and the deck, and a trail of fuel poured along the fence to the house, records state.

The homeowners’ surveillance camera revealed a male suspect “with longer hair” who was wearing a sport coat, breaking a mirror and the windshield wipers of their silver Ford car that was parked on the property. They did not recognize the man on the footage.

Deputies matched Chain to the person on the footage and noticed a torch in plain view on his Tundra’s passenger floorboard and a gas tank in the truck bed.

Chain admitted he vandalized the Ford vehicle at the residence because he thought it belonged to his ex, who drives the same type of vehicle. He also told authorities that he poured diesel on the Helena Flats property and lit the fire because he thought his ex was renting the residence.

Chain also told law enforcement that he was mad at his ex for filing a restraining order against him and he wanted to “send her a message.”

Authorities concluded that his ex was not living at the residence and the vehicle did not belong to her.

In 2017, Chain was convicted of criminal child endangerment, a felony, after he rear-ended a vehicle in a restaurant’s drive thru with a 2-year-old child in the backseat while he was under the influence of Ambien and morphine.

Chain has multiple DUI convictions dating back to 1987.

Chain’s arraignment hearing is scheduled for June 22 before Judge Amy Eddy.

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