News

Arson fires lit at depot, city hall

Northwest Railway Museum Executive Director Richard Anderson visits the wall and platform of the historic Snoqualmie railway depot, damaged by arson fire early Tuesday, June 30. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Northwest Railway Museum Executive Director Richard Anderson visits the wall and platform of the historic Snoqualmie railway depot, damaged by arson fire early Tuesday, June 30.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

King County fire investigators put a $10,000 reward out Tuesday, June 30, to find the culprit behind a spree of arson fires at Snoqualmie Railway Depot, Bella Vita Spa and Salon and Snoqualmie City Hall.

Someone lit garbage and recycle bins on fire at the buildings early Tuesday. Despite smoke and fire damage, all three businesses opened on time that day.

At the nearly 120-year-old depot, someone lit a garbage can on fire on the platform, then pushed it up against the wall of the freight room.

"Thank goodness for sprinklers," said Richard Anderson, executive director of the Northwest Railway Depot, who was woken about 2 a.m. by an emergency phone call. "This entire building is made of wood. Once a fire got going in this building, it would be difficult to stop."

The structure is the oldest continuously operated train station in the state.

"This is the icon of Snoqualmie," Anderson said. The museum, which already weathered a flood this year, will address the fire and move on.

"It's obviously very frustrating," Anderson said. "We'll do everything we can to ensure it doesn't interfere with any of our programs."

The museum celebrates the 120th anniversary of the first train ride to Snoqualmie Falls on Saturday, July 4, and the Day Out With Thomas returns the following weekend.

While there was no structural damage, the fire damaged 100 square feet of siding, melted speaker wires and put lots of smoke into the building.

This was the first live test of the depot's sprinklers since they were installed in 1979.

Arson spree

Just before 4 a.m. Tuesday, another series of fires were ignite nearby, behind the Snoqualmie City Hall and Bella Vita in the 8000 block of Railroad Avenue. The arsonist had lit recycling bins behind both buildings.

Dave Speikers, who was providing security for the Kiwanis fireworks stand in the King Street gravel lot, called 911 after a passerby banged on his camper door. Flames reached the eaves of the spa building, damaged the air conditioner and melted the plastic bins.

Bella Vita co-owner Marie Everett said she was glad the fire was spotted before it did worse damage.

The back wall of her building, out of sight from the main road, seems to invite trouble.

"We've been tagged three times, and now fire," she said. "These kids need to be supervised."

The fire at city hall scarred the cinderblock wall and damaged a drain pipe, but otherwise did little damage.

However, if it had spread, "it could have been devastating," City Clerk Jodi Warren said.

Essential city record are protected, Warren said. Essential records are kept in state and regional archives, and important computer servers are in the city vault.

If the fire had destroyed city hall, "even though we would have lost paper copies, we would have electronic information," Warren said.

• Anyone with information about the fires is asked to call the fire investigator at 1 (800) 55-ARSON.

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