Investigators: Employee burglarized, set fire to Pal's Shanty - KCTV5

Investigators: 'Comedy of errors' leads to kitchen manager's arrest in Pal's Shanty Tavern fire

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A two-alarm fire that took down Pal's Shanty Tavern last year was intentionally set, according to investigators.

Investigators believe the tavern's kitchen manager is responsible.

Fire crews were called to Pal's Shanty Tavern on Northeast Sandy Boulevard just before 1:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 15.

Callers reported hearing an explosion and then seeing sparks and smoke coming from a second-story window.

A second alarm was called because of the threat of the fire spreading.

Investigators say Marcus Tyler was the last employee to close up on the night of the fire. They believe he had been planning for some time to burglarize the business with friend Michael Duncan and then set it on fire to destroy the evidence.

Tyler had worked in the kitchen for five years, according to investigators.

His fellow employees say they are sickened by what he's accused of.

"It's very difficult for everyone to process, especially for everyone who's known him for several years," said co-worker Piney Kahn.

"I closed the bar that night so I was part of that closing crew, but left before him. Then I get this call saying the place was on fire and I live six blocks away so I came out and was just watching. It was horrible, and it's especially hard for the owners. It's their family business."

Arson investigators say that Tyler and Duncan used accelerants to make sure the fire carried throughout the entire building.

They may have gotten away with it, but investigators say something didn't go according to plan.

"I don't think either one of them expected to get burned seriously," said Portland fire investigator Rick McGraw. "It pretty much stopped their crime spree that night."

"Tyler burned himself on the face, the arm and I believe his rear end was quite burned," he added.

At first, investigators say, Duncan called 911 miles away from the fire, claiming he didn't know Tyler but had just found him naked and badly burned on the side of the road.

The two reportedly went to the hospital under fake names.

Portland police detectives connected the dots once Tyler was fingerprinted and called Portland fire investigators, thinking the two incidents might be related.

They arrested Tyler and Duncan weeks later once Tyler was released from the hospital.

"It was a comedy of errors, and that allowed us to put something together quickly," said McGraw. "It was a joint effort between Portland police and Portland fire, and it feels good to know we were able to work together and help to bring the owners of Pal's Shanty some closure."

Kahn and the other employees of Pal's Shanty Tavern say they were forced to find temporary work elsewhere after the fire.

Kahn says Pal's Shanty Tavern likely won't reopen until June 2014 because of repairs to the facility.

"Very few of us have found employment, but I'm very lucky that I've found work at the Lion's Eye Tavern," said Kahn.

An account has been set up at U.S. Bank to help the displaced employees under the "Pal's Shanty Crew Relief Fund."

The group also is collecting donations at www.gofundme.com/5aod2o.

Tyler and Duncan are both facing burglary 2, arson 2 and criminal mischief 1 charges.

Their trials are set to begin in February.

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