Man arrested after Snohomish barn fire endangers 3 cows

SNOHOMISH — Three cows escaped a barn fire near Snohomish on Friday that reportedly was set by a man with mental-health issues.

The man, 32, was being held Monday at the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree arson, a felony.

The fire broke out about 11 a.m. Friday at property owned by the man’s parents along Three Lakes Road, east of Snohomish. Firefighters from Snohomish, Monroe and Lake Stevens arrived to find the barn engulfed in flames, according to the arrest report.

The man reportedly set fire to the barn and to a vehicle parked outside.

No injuries were reported from the fires, Snohomish Fire Chief Ron Simmons said Monday.

Police were summoned as firefighters saw a man in a leather coat walking away from the scene, records show. At some point, the man reportedly donned a scarecrow mask on his head.

A relative put out the fire in the vehicle with a garden hose. Crews extinguished the barn fire in about 15 minutes, Simmons said.

Three cows were locked in the barn when the fire was set, according to the arrest report. The relative had tried to extinguish the barn fire with the hose, but there wasn’t enough water pressure.

The barn gate had been chained and clipped closed. The relative forced open the gate so the cows could escape.

The suspect reportedly told police that he set the fire because, “The devil is chasing me.” He said he was “trying to escape reality” and that he locked the cows inside the barn, “because they had to die, too.”

The barn fire happened near a large propane tank. If the tank had ignited, the fire would have put human life in danger, officers wrote in the report. The man was being held Monday on $25,000 bail.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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