News

Arsonist strikes city hall

NORTH BEND — North Bend's City Hall, which is housed in the

same building as the fire department, was set on fire at approximately 11

p.m. on Monday, May 29. The building suffered an estimated $5,000 in

damage, officials said.

According to police reports, an accelerant was splashed on

the building's south brick wall and ignited, in what firefighters call a

"splash and dash."

"It was clearly an arson," said Joy Veranth, a King County fire

investigator.

The case is currently under investigation, so Veranth would not

comment if her department is investigating any possible suspects.

However, a $10,000 reward fund is being offered from the

insurance industry, to be split among those who come forward with information

that leads to the arrest and conviction of the arsonist.

On Monday night, a passerby put out the blaze by kicking dirt on it

and called 911 on her cellular phone, said Mike Absher, an Eastside Fire &

Rescue marshal. When firefighters came over from next door, the blaze was

almost out, he added.

The building's brick wall was scorched in several spots,

including the area underneath Mayor Joan Simpson's office, and a bush near

the front door was partially burned.

The hand-carved wooden City Hall plaque was also damaged,

and City Administrator Phil Messina said that attempts to repair it might not

be successful.

Messina explained that strong accelerant fumes have seeped inside

the building, which caused one city employee to get sick.

In cleanup efforts, the wall was pressure-washed and will still need

a new coat of paint and other repairs, he said.

Absher and Messina said that because the building was

technically occupied during the time of the blaze, the crime could be charged as a felony.

While City Hall has been the occasional target of vandalism in

the past, Messina explained that it has been quite a while since the last

incident.

This latest fire could possibly be connected with other vandalism

cases, including a fire set at the old Tanner Mill last year, Absher said.

Anyone with information about the city hall fire should call

Joy Veranth at (206) 296-6670.

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