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Young teen admits to setting Welco fire

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By Eric Stevick and Rikki King
Herald Writers
MARYSVILLE -- A 13-year-old Marysville boy has told police he set the July 23 fire that caused extensive damage to a vacant lumber mill, officials said.
Arson investigators are expected to turn the case over to Snohomish County prosecutors early next week, said Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux of the Marysville Police Department.
Lamoureux said the boy's parents brought him to the police station earlier this week, and he admitted to setting the fire. The lumber yard, along Ebey Slough, opened in 1987 and closed three years ago.
Witnesses reported seeing a group of young people in the area just before the fire started, Lamoureux said.
Three other Marysville boys, all 13, were identified as being with the suspect at the time of the fire. They are being treated as witnesses, Lamoureux said.
The boy was released into his parents' custody, officials said Friday.
Parents don't often turn in a juvenile firestarter, said Kristen Thorstenson, vice president of Snohomish County Fire Prevention Association. She works as an educator and interventionist for juvenile firestarters.
For now, there aren't any intervention plans for the boy and his family, she said. In criminal cases, interventions most often happen later in the legal process.
A probation officer will usually recommend an intervention program after charging, but before sentencing, said Kim Schroeder, a fire and life safety education specialist with Fire District 1.
However, if the boy has a criminal history, especially anything fire-related, that might not happen.
Each year, Fire District 1 usually sees 10 to 12 kids who were involved in setting fires, she said.
Fires set by young people tend to increase in the doldrums of summer.
Damage to the mill is estimated at $100,000. The building is a total loss, said Brian Kenworthy, the listing agent and senior vice president of GVA Kidder Mathews real estate firm.
There are no plans to rebuild.
"The land is for sale," said Peter Stroble, a Welco Co. spokesman. "We are getting it cleaned up."
Cleanup is estimated at $15,000. The mill's roof collapsed during the fire, but there were no injuries.
Before the fire, the property was listed at $4.1 million, Kenworthy said. Most likely, the loss of the building will hurt the property's price tag, unless whoever buys it didn't want the building anyway.
The property is still on the market, Kenworthy said, though the owners are waiting for everything to "settle down" before they re-evaluate the listing.
In its heyday, the five-acre mill gave jobs to about 150 people, producing cedar fencing and dimensional lumber that was used primarily in home construction. Welco Lumber closed its Marysville mill in mid-2007 with a drop in the area's home construction market.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446,
Story tags » MarysvilleCrimeArson

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