Washington dentist allegedly set fire to medical gowns, masks in attempt to burn down office

A dentist who was being evicted from his office allegedly doused medical gowns and masks with accelerant and set fires in his exam and X-ray rooms, according to The Seattle Times.

Mohammad "Matt" Rafie, DDS, of A to Z Dental Bellevue (Wash.), was charged March 26 with first-degree arson linked to three separate fires set inside the second-story dental office March 23.

Firefighters found a box of medical supplies on fire in a corner of the office, according to court documents. A second box, including gowns and masks, was found on fire in a filing cabinet, while a third box was on fire in the office's X-ray room. Firefighters reported that it appeared the fires had been intentionally set and the office smelled of accelerants.

Dr. Rafie, 53, told the fire department team that he was cleaning his office and knocked over an oxygen tank, accidentally starting the fire, court records show. At Dr. Rafie's house, a police dog found accelerants on the dentist's shirt, pants and shoes, according to charges. The dog detected accelerants in every room at the dental office.

The dentist hadn't paid rent since December and was being evicted, according to a detective.

"The defendant's actions in this case reflect a desperate man willing to put others at risk to get what he wants," Deputy Prosecutor Aubony Burns wrote in charging papers, noting the three-story building contains 28 offices, some of which were occupied at the time of the fire.

"Also concerning were the items the defendant used to ignite the fire — medical masks and gowns," the prosecutor wrote. "The defendant's choice to use these precious items in the middle of a worldwide pandemic adds to the appalling nature of his crimes."

Dr. Rafie didn't respond to The Seattle Times' request for comment. His arraignment is set for May 7.

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