Two Centralia residents accused of tampering with propane tanks before starting a fire on Nov. 12

Man and woman charged with arson in Lewis County Superior Court 


Two Centralia residents are facing first-degree arson and malicious mischief charges for allegedly tampering with propane tanks and starting a fire at a rented Military Road residence on Sunday, Nov. 12. 

Charges against the two co-defendants, identified as Sharlee Kelly, 42, and Jeffery James Palermo, 41, both of Centralia, were filed in Lewis County Superior Court on Friday, Nov. 17 following an arson investigation. 

According to court documents, Kelly and Palermo are accused of intentionally setting the residence on fire. The building’s owners noted that Kelly and Palmero were asked to move out by Nov. 1 and were seen moving personal items out throughout Sunday, Nov. 12.

On Nov. 12, a resident called to report “what appeared to be smoke” coming from the back of the residence, with the Riverside Fire Authority responding to extinguish the fire.

Two propane tanks, which had been tampered with to remove safety valves, were discovered in the residence. Investigators also found “what appeared to be intentional burn marks on a couch.”

According to the declaration of probable cause, Riverside Fire Captain Erik Olson concluded “because the safety valves on the propane were tampered with and left open, an explosion from those tanks posed a danger to the lives of any responding firefighter.” 

The investigation determined the fire started in a bedroom closet, where an electric heater was located, and investigators discovered two small gas canisters on a dresser in the room.

Kelly reportedly told investigators the pair last used the kerosene heater to heat the home “about a week ago” and said the tanks were nearly empty. According to investigators, “it was discovered the tanks were almost full.”

A detective reviewed Flock Security camera footage from around the time of the fire and observed the pair’s vehicle traveling on a different road than they told investigators, according to court documents.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Joely Yeager set Kelly’s bail at $100,000 during a preliminary hearing in Lewis County Superior Court on Friday. In setting the bail amount, which was requested by the state, Yeager called the allegations “incredibly concerning” and noted a risk to community safety.

Palermo refused to appear for his Nov. 17 preliminary hearing and is being held in the Lewis County Jail on a no-bail hold until at least 4 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 20, when the court will make a second attempt to hold the hearing. 

Kelly’s arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 22.