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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arson suspected in two fires in Bellingham’s Columbia neighborhood

    Arson is suspected in two fires that occurred minutes apart at the Broadway Neighborhood Youth Center and Elizabeth Park Sunday, April 10.

    The first fire was spotted at about 5:20 p.m. when smoke was seen coming out of the Elizabeth Park bathrooms. As firefighters responded, they also saw smoke about a block away coming from the youth center at 1415 Dupont St., said Greg Sluys, fire inspector for the Bellingham Fire Department.

    The fire at Elizabeth Park appeared to have started when the toilet paper rolls were ignited, Sluys said. The damage to the park’s bathrooms was minimal.

    The youth center fire started in the corner of a bathroom, possibly inside of a trash can, Sluys said. All of the doors to the youth center were locked, so whoever started the fire likely entered through a window, he said.

    The fire at the youth center ran out of fuel before firefighters arrived but still caused about $5,000 worth of damage, Sluys said. There also could be smoke damage, which hasn’t been assessed yet, he said.

    Police suspect that a small group of middle-schoolers who were seen in the area may have started the fires.

    “”I’m a little disappointed that the probable perpetrators are kids that we work with at the youth center,”” said the center’s site director Rick Qualls.

    The youth center, which offers pingpong, foosball and other activities after school, will be closed until the damage is repaired.

    If the repairs cannot be made within the week, the center will operate from another building on site, Qualls said.

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