West Seattle Crime Watch: Dumpster fires start search for suspected arsonist

12:08 AM: Right now in the Admiral District, investigators are dealing with multiple Dumpster fires, and looking into the possibility they were arson. (Thanks to Peter for sharing the photo from one fire between Admiral Chevron and Admiral 7-11.) They have mentioned a possible suspect description over emergency radio – white male, 5’11”, gray jacket with a white stripe, khaki shorts, last seen running southbound on Admiral near California.

4:02 AM: We’ve reported separately on the 2 am fire in South Admiral. Now, a small fire in High Point is now under investigation, and firefighters are checking out a report of smoke in Gatewood. No official information at this point indicating any of this is related but police and fire investigators are checking it all out.

10:30 AM: Via SPD Blotter, police now say they are indeed investigating two Dumpster fires and the 3200 block California SW fire as arson and are seeking tips.

16 Replies to "West Seattle Crime Watch: Dumpster fires start search for suspected arsonist"

  • David September 6, 2014 (1:22 am)

    This is too late to do any good, but I saw this guy. I just had driven by the dumpster on fire at the 7/11. I stopped to take a picture, then went to the Safeway gas station (about midnight on the dot). I saw a guy with shorts, and a stripped jacket messing with the dumpster next to the gas station building…thought just a bum maybe looking for something, but considering I just saw a dumpster fire, made me wonder. But sounds like the same guy.

  • JanS September 6, 2014 (1:42 am)

    the other was at 41st and Admiral, so either the old Barnecuts or maybe Starbucks. A little too close to home for comfort, just a half block away :(

  • carole September 6, 2014 (2:02 am)

    It’s 2am and two fire trucks have raced up California toward Admiral in the last 10 minutes or so. More fires?

    • WSB September 6, 2014 (2:05 am)

      Yes, see separate story. 3210 California site this time (vacated building).

  • JanS September 6, 2014 (2:05 am)

    hmm…and was seen going south on Calif? Now this fire in an empty bldg? not too far away? hmmmmm….

  • Cass September 6, 2014 (4:26 am)

    Our front shrubs on fire a little after 4am on the 6500 block of 34th ave SW. Someone driving by saved us and started putting it out with our hose, it was so close to our house it could have gone very wrong very fast. The police said there have been 4 other fires tonight most likely all related. We are so lucky this didn’t get worse, I really hope they get the person who is setting all these fires, our house could have easily caught on fire. Thank you to the two strangers who jumped into action and made a bad situation better.

  • G September 6, 2014 (5:44 am)

    More West Seattle insanity! My mother lives a half of block from there and my heart skipped a beat when I read the headline. I’m angry and frustrated!

  • Chris W September 6, 2014 (7:30 am)

    Cass, thanks for sharing that story. I love WS. @WSB I was awakened by the smell of burning plastic followed by the idling of a large trick. Thinking it odd, I decided to check the blog. You always deliver! Thank you!

  • TG September 6, 2014 (9:50 am)

    David (first commenter) – did you call 911 when you saw this? People’s lives and livelihoods depend on citizens speaking up when they see something suspicious. Sometimes one seemingly insignificant piece of information can help solve a crime. Better to err on the side of caution. If you didn’t call then, I encourage you to call now. Your eye witness account – visual details and timing – will be helpful to them especially if they are still searching for him and to build a case against him.

  • G.B. September 6, 2014 (10:57 am)

    The bummer about arsonists is they are often motivated to escalate by the notoriety they receive (like the Greenwood arsonist a few years ago). Last night’s spree doesn’t seem like a first effort to me and I’ll bet this person has started fires in our community before.

    Let’s hope SPD and SFD can determine if this could possibly be related to the Schmitz Park school playground fire earlier in the summer. That damage seemed consistent with some kind of accelerant and was in the middle of the night plus the location may have been chosen because it was hidden from view from any street or house and therefore the fire wasn’t discovered until a lot of damage had occurred.

  • Mike September 6, 2014 (11:46 am)

    Any idea if SFD ever finished investigating the fire that destroyed playground equipment and burned part of Schmitz Park Elementary? Any possibility these events are connected to the same person?
    David, it’s never too late, you might have given more detail as to timetables of when and where to look at security camera footage. Hopefully they catch this arsonist before they kill somebody.

    • WSB September 6, 2014 (11:54 am)

      Have no idea if it was ever ruled arson or not. Unfortunately, that’s the type of information that doesn’t exist online in any form, and after the first few nag notes, there’s no way to tell when, if, investigation results are available. If it was ever ruled arson, SPD would have been the investigating agency; their files are tough to cross-reference months after the fact. But I’ll try.

  • GH September 6, 2014 (11:53 am)

    All of those fires, the description of the suspect possibly seen heading down admiral, and the police responding to a body found at the admiral viewpoint. @Wsb, is there any info on the body found? What a crazy night?!

    • WSB September 6, 2014 (12:06 pm)

      No, it was listed only as DOA (in Tweets by Beat), not homicide. No police or other authorities by the time I finally was able to check out the viewpoint, which further verifies the likelihood they’re not considering it suspicious (it’s classified in a later TBB as “non-criminal”), but regarding cause of death, age/gender/circumstances, illness/suicide/or what, info likely won’t be available before Monday … TR

  • Gina September 6, 2014 (2:54 pm)

    A number of burnt and singed napkins are blowing around the Lafayette playground today. From the 7-11 dumpster?

    • WSB September 6, 2014 (3:16 pm)

      If you can tell from the photo we published, the dumpster was pulled out toward the street – I noticed during a drive-by earlier today that it’s back up against the 7-11 front wall – but it looked as if it were more parallel with the storefronts across the street (Atomic Boys etc.) before I cropped the photo a bit. Other thing is, while the SPD Blotter item only mentioned the 7-11 dumpster and one at 41st/Admiral, while this was all happening last night, there were a couple other calls around the same time, maybe something happened closer to the schoolyard …

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