Crime

Bellingham arson suspect allegedly smelled of gasoline and had singed hair, police say

Bellingham Police arrested a 54-year-old man they suspect of using gasoline to start a fire Tuesday afternoon at a warehouse along the Railroad Trail in the Roosevelt neighborhood.

Craig Stuart Wise was booked into Whatcom County Jail on suspicion of second-degree arson and is being held on $5,000 bail, according to jail records.

According to information provided by Lt. Claudia Murphy in an email Wednesday to The Bellingham Herald, Bellingham police officers and fire crews responded at 5:29 p.m. Tuesday to a structure fire at a commercial building in the 2700 bock of Nevada Street.

Assistant Chief Bill Hewett told The Bellingham Herald in an interview that it was a “very small fire” and that the first fire company to respond was able to limit damage to a 3 foot-by-3 foot area of the building and some brush outside the structure.

Hewett also said the fire “appeared to be intentionally set.”

Damage was estimated to be approximately $1,500, Murphy said.

Wise was seen near the building at the time of the fire hitting the door with a hammer or something like a hammer, Murphy said. Officers at the scene said Wise smelled like gasoline and had singed hair on his arm.

Fire investigators told police an accelerant used in the fire appeared to be gasoline, Murphy said, and after obtaining a search warrant for Wise’s apartment, police found a clear, plastic juice container that had a small amount of gasoline in it.

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