Suspect arrested in arson

EVERETT – Police arrested a man Wednesday after he allegedly set a small fire in a house and threatened a resident inside with two large kitchen knives.

Barton Glasser / The Herald

Detectives Steve LeFebre (left) and Wally Friesen examine a burned out building in the 3400 block of Lombard Avenue in Everett Wednesday morning.

The man, 34, also is suspected of setting two other fires on the property just before breaking into the house, Everett police Sgt. Cheryl Braley said.

One blaze gutted a small, vacant apartment in a shed behind the house in the 3400 block of Lombard Avenue. An adjacent garage also caught fire.

The suspect had been living in the apartment behind the house until two days ago, police said. Braley didn’t know if he had been evicted from the residence.

The owner of the house declined to speak with The Herald.

The small fire in the main house was quickly extinguished, and no one was injured. Firefighters were able to put out the garage fire before it spread to another nearby house, where Don Wade was sleeping.

“I heard a series of crashes and called 911,” said Wade, 65.

He thought someone was breaking into his house, where he has lived for 20 years.

“I was surprised to see firemen standing there,” he said, adding that a firefighter rushed him out of the house to safety.

It was too early in the investigation to say why the man set the fires, or if he may be responsible for other arsons in the area, Braley said.

Witnesses told police that the apartment and garage were on fire when the suspect broke into the main house about 5:30 a.m., Braley said.

The man ran from the house, and police dogs searched for him. An officer spotted the suspect just after 7 a.m. on the corner of Everett and Wetmore avenues.

Greg Flaucher, who was walking to work, was waiting on the corner when the man walked past him.

“He just seemed really hyper and paranoid,” Flaucher said.

The suspect crossed the street in front of traffic, then crossed back when he spotted a police officer, Flaucher said.

Flaucher watched from his fifth-floor office as the suspect ran from police. Officers chased the man, who was armed with two knives, into an alley west of the former KeyBank building on California Street.

During the chase, the suspect ran into the side of a patrol car, Braley said. He struggled with officers, who eventually used tear gas to subdue him, Braley said. Several officers received minor bumps and bruises during the struggle.

Police recovered the two knives.

The man was booked into the Snohomish County Jail under investigation for first-degree arson and second-degree assault with a weapon. The man, who has a history of burglary and drug possession, is expected to make an appearance in Everett District Court today.

This is the second arrest of arson suspects by Everett police in a week. Police arrested Thomas O. Melum on Dec. 1 after he allegedly set fire to a porch in the 2100 block of Grand Avenue.

Melum, 35, was charged Monday with first-degree arson.

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