Ferndale homeowner arrested for investigation of arson

FERNDALE — A Ferndale man whose property was about to be sold at auction has been arrested for investigation of arson in a fire that damaged his home.

The Bellingham Herald reported that Kenneth Cassell was arrested Wednesday in Bellingham, miles from his burning home. The Whatcom County sheriff’s office said he was walking into the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center near the county courthouse with a loaded .357 Magnum handgun in his waistband.

Sheriff Bill Elfo said deputies had concerns about Cassell’s mental health and intentions after finding handwritten notes left at his house. The sheriff’s office didn’t reveal what the notes said.

The newspaper said Cassell’s double-wide mobile home was due to be auctioned Friday. Documents show he hasn’t paid his mortgage since September 2011.

The Herald said the sheriff’s office sent a SWAT team to the burning house, concerned that the owner might be on the property and armed.

Cassell was convicted last year of animal cruelty and violating a dog breeding law in what authorities described as a puppy mill investigation. Forty-eight dogs were removed.

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