EVERETT — A teenage arsonist was identified Wednesday as the suspect in the fire that destroyed Judd & Black’s flagship store in Everett.
Police believe the three-alarm fire at the storied appliance store last September was set by a 19-year-old man who is “currently serving time in prison on an unrelated arson,” according to a news release. Everett police declined to confirm his name because prosecutors have not filed charges against him.
Court records suggest the suspect is Timothy Wood, 19. He is serving a 13-month prison sentence at the state prison in Shelton for setting fire to the curtains of a condemned house last fall in north Everett.
Less than a month before that fire, flames consumed $2 million in washing machines, freezers and other Judd & Black inventory, as well as a historic building valued at $1.5 million. Police have not said what evidence they have against Wood in the arson at 3001 Hewitt Ave., nor have they publicly identified a motive.
Investigators believe the fire started next to the building. Police did not say exactly how it was sparked.
The main piece of the structure, the Bast Building, was completed in 1892, a year before the city of Everett was founded. Over the decades, it fused with a building next door and housed a saloon, hotels and a bottling factory. The appliance retailer moved into the space in 1962. Metal siding reinforced the walls, covering century-old bricks.
Judd & Black, an Everett-based business run by the Long family, has been passed down through generations. Other retail outlets have sprouted up around Puget Sound.
The flagship store burned through the night of Sept. 21.
The next day, Everett Fire Chief Dave DeMarco said it appeared to be suspicious.
Burned appliances sat exposed to the elements for months on Hewitt, feet away from cars zipping by on I-5, until excavators demolished the walls this summer.
Then on the night of Oct. 14, flames broke out at a derelict house in the 1200 block of Lombard Avenue. Heat charred the east half of the home. Smoke damaged the entire building.
Squatters had been breaking into the boarded-up house for years as the owner racked up thousands of dollars in fines from the city for failing to maintain the eyesore.
According to charging papers, police later found that the fire was an act of retaliation against a man who agreed to store Wood’s drugs and property there.
Wood showed up to the Lombard home with his girlfriend and a mutual friend, and learned his stuff was missing. He held the flame of a Bic lighter up to a curtain.
Much of the story came to light in January, when police arrested a young man in an unrelated case. He claimed Wood, a close friend, had confided in him about setting the fire on Lombard.
In separate interviews with police, the two eyewitnesses described Wood lighting the fire in a bedroom. All three escaped without serious injury. One of the young women inhaled enough smoke that she had a bad cough the next day. The suspect declined to speak with police. Police records suggest Wood was homeless at the time.
In January, police formally announced that the Judd & Black fire was arson without elaborating on how they reached that conclusion.
Wood has been under suspicion for months. In a side note to the charges for the house fire, a prosecutor wrote he “is also the subject of investigation for another Arson of the Judd and Black store.” That was written in February.
In April, the defendant entered a plea in which he acknowledged a jury would likely find him guilty of the house fire, while he maintained his innocence. It’s known as an Alford plea. It’s considered a conviction.
Detectives forwarded a report this week to the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office, recommending new charges of first-degree arson against Wood.
Earlier this year, Judd & Black opened a new location on Everett Mall Way in a former Circuit City, with double the floor space.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.