Deputies caught a suspected serial arsonist lighting her home on fire while her 12-year-old daughter was sleeping inside early Wednesday, May 6, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
Casey A. Evans, 38, was booked into Whatcom County Jail on Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree arson after fire investigators and sheriff’s deputies watched her start a fire at her home at 3195 Locust Ave., just outside Bellingham city limits.
The sheriff’s office and Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office had been investigating a series of small fires that included a utility pole, a transport trailer, and multiple grass fires that started near Evans’ home within the past month, according to the sheriff’s office. Investigators noticed that Evans usually was the person who called authorities about the fires.
Investigators set up surveillance of the area, and late Tuesday night they watched Evans walk to the side of her house with a flashlight, then back inside her house repeatedly for about 45 minutes, according to the sheriff’s office. Eventually, detectives said, they saw flames beginning to spread on the side of the house she rents.
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As the fire grew 3 to 4 feet high, one detective detained Evans while a fire investigator extinguished the flames. Detectives found a lighter inside Evans’ pocket. They also found ashes and partially burned paper in spots surrounding the house, where they believe she had tried starting other fires, according to the sheriff’s office.
Evans’ 12-year-old daughter was asleep inside the house. Sheriff Bill Elfo said the daughter was put in the care of Child Protective Services.
“The suspect in this case not only placed her own 12-year-old daughter at risk, but all of the neighbors who live nearby,” Elfo said in a statement. “I am proud of our detectives and Fire Marshal’s Office investigators for their good detective work in identifying and capturing this serial arsonist as well as in preventing the fire from harming others and destroying property.”
Evans denied setting the fires and would not talk to deputies, Elfo said Wednesday. Detectives are investigating whether she was responsible for other fires in the area.