Camas Hotel manager accused of setting fire to historic property

Police say Won Dong Lee-Kim, 30, was trying to collect insurance money when he intentionally started a fire in an unoccupied guest room on Wednesday

Camas police have arrested the manager of the Camas Hotel in connection to a fire that broke out Wednesday, June 17, in one of the hotel’s guest rooms. 

Won Dong A. Lee-Kim, 30, of Camas, has been charged with first-degree arson and booked at Clark County Jail. Police say Lee-Kim set the fire in an attempt to collect insurance money. The Clark County Jail’s inmate roster shows Lee-Kim is also being held on a fugitive from justice charge. 

A hotel guest reported the fire Wednesday to 911 and said a smoke alarm was going off in a guest room on the 109-year-old historic downtown Camas hotel’s third floor. The guest also reported smelling smoke. Police say the guest controlled the small fire with a fire extinguisher and that damage was minimal and contained to one unoccupied room. 

The hotel had 15 guests staying inside at the time of the fire. 

Upon inspection, Camas-Washougal Fire Department officials reported evidence of the fire being intentionally set and turned the case over to the Camas Police Department for investigation. 

A man who identified himself as 32-year-old Brendan Lee took over ownership of the historic Camas Hotel in August 2019. At that time, Lee told the Post-Record he planned to bring his manager, Chris Lee, on board to help him run the hotel.

Lee purchased the hotel, located at 405 N.E. Fourth Ave., from former owners Terri and Dave Sauer.

The Sauers purchased the hotel in 2016 for $2.31 million from Karen and Tom Hall, who had owned the property since 2008 at that point and had invested about $800,000 into the hotel. Prior to the Halls, Thomas Dean and Patricia Wallace owned the hotel for more than 35 years.

The hotel boasts 24 rooms, a manager’s apartment and two retail spaces currently leased to Tommy O’s restaurant and Allure Boutique.

This is a breaking news story. Look for updates online at camaspostrecord.com and in our weekly print edition

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited to reflect the correct name of the man accused of arson: Won Dong Lee-Kim. An initial Camas Police Department news release listed the Camas Hotel manager’s name as Sung Dong Lee-Kim.

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