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Island County Sheriff's Department said a fire that destroyed two homes and damaged others in Langley on Thursday morning was intentionally set.
Sheriff Mark Brown said they arrested 48-year-old Blake Fountain on suspicion of arson in connection with the fire in the 5700 block of Capt Vancouver Drive. Fountain has not been charged with a crime.
Fountain is due in court Friday at 1:30 p.m. for a preliminary appearance.
While Sheriff Brown said it's not clear what the relationship is between the suspect and the homeowners, records show the primary house targeted belongs to an associate priest at Grace by the Sea, an Anglican church on Whidbey.
A church bulletin reveals the suspect was a parishioner at the same church. The suspect doesn't have a criminal history, but Brown said law enforcement has had contact with the suspect before.
Detectives say there is "distinct evidence" at the scene that indicates the fire was intentionally set, but it's still unclear if the fire was random or targeted. No serious injuries were reported in the fire.
“The best case scenario is that we don’t have any serious injuries, at least that we know of. And that’s what we’re very thankful for," Brown said.
Neighbors reported hearing an explosion shortly before 6 a.m. The house where the fire started was just being re-roofed.
A family of four, which includes children ages 4 and 9, was in the house next door when it caught on fire. The homeowner said he awoke to the sound of his daughter screaming. The family managed to get out safely, but their house appears to be a total loss.
Deputies found the suspect near the scene, but Brown wouldn't say what he was doing at the time. According to reports, gas cans were found nearby.
"There was some evidence that was collected, specific to gas cannisters, I do not know, but we have evidence to believe that this was an arson," said Brown. "We also believe we have the person in custody responsible."
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks was on scene Thursday morning but did not comment on possible charges the arsonist could face.
Red Cross volunteers were on the scene by 7:30 a.m. to feed responders and assist anyone displaced by the fire.
Keasha Campbell, who owns the Crabby Coffee stand a few miles from the fire, started a Go Fund Me account for the homeowners.
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