Crime

Auto repair shop owner arrested in Ferndale arson

McClatchy

The owner of a Whatcom County auto repair shop faces charges of setting his girlfriend’s new home ablaze, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

Before the fire, Anthony Daniel Summers’ relationship with his girlfriend of a few years had turned rocky, said Undersheriff Jeff Parks. Summers wanted them to stay together. She wanted to break up. So she was moving to a mobile home on Upland Way – where utilities were still being installed – about 2 miles southwest of Ferndale. Summers had been helping to convert the office-style portable into a home, Parks said.

A fire broke out at the unoccupied building around 5:20 a.m. July 18. The flames destroyed the building, an estimated loss of about $7,000. No one was injured. The building had no electricity, and investigators took samples to confirm whether or not an accelerant sparked the fire. It appeared to have started by the doorway. Summers’ truck was found “a short distance” from the scene, Parks said.

Two days later a pile of tires, wood and debris caught fire outside Tony’s Auto Repair, Summers’ business at 3060 Haxton Way. Flames scorched the wall, while heat and smoke caused thousands of dollars in damage. Fire officials considered it suspicious, in light of the lack of possible ignition sources in the area. Investigators later confirmed the fire was set on purpose, but no one has been arrested or charged with starting it, said Mitch Nolze, an investigator with the county fire marshal.

Deputies booked Summers into the Whatcom County Jail around noon Friday to face a charge of first-degree arson for the mobile home fire on Upland Way.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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