Officials downplay recent fires

EVERETT – A string of suspicious fires has been set in north Everett since June, but investigators say there hasn’t been a large increase in the number of arsons since last year.

“They might be up a little bit, but it isn’t huge,” said Everett Fire Marshal Warren Burns.

Firefighters and police investigate 30 to 40 suspicious fires a year in Everett, Burns said. Last year, a number of those fires were concentrated in south Everett. The nexus seems to have moved to the north end of the city, he said.

The latest fire destroyed about $500,000 in property at a north Everett log yard Tuesday. Investigators say the fire is suspicious, but stopped shorted of calling it an arson.

Police do not believe the fire is connected to the string of fires set in the north end this summer.

“We’ve had increased publicity with the fires in north Everett, so it feels like more fires than normal. It isn’t,” Bryant said.

Arsons usually happen in the spring and summer when more people are outdoors, he said.

“We have had a number of fires in north Everett. Probably a couple of them here and there are connected,” Bryant said. “This has created more awareness this year, which is not a bad thing.”

Police and fire officials have met with neighborhood groups to discuss the arsons, explaining that residents should keep their eyes open for any suspicious activity and not be afraid to call 911.

“The way we’re going to catch these guys is good people noticing something out of place and making a phone call to us,” police officer John DeRousse told neighbors at a recent Delta neighborhood meeting.

Everett Fire Battalion Chief Dave Neyens also told Delta neighbors that they can protect themselves from being arson magnets. He offered several tips, saying arsonists generally “won’t be packing around anything but a lighter.”

About 70 percent of arsonists don’t have a specific target in mind, Burns said. Instead, they see something easy to ignite in an area where they don’t think they’ll be spotted, he said.

Neyens encouraged neighbors to clean up back alleys and keep those areas well lit.

North Everett resident Jean Carrillo and her neighbors have become concerned about leaving anything outside their homes, she said.

“We’ve been talking about it in the alleys,” she said.

The city’s code compliance officers are still seeing stacks of newspaper, lumber and other debris in the alleys, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t look much different out there,” she said. “We want residents to take extra precautions in light of the time of year and incidents that have been occurring.”

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@

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