Blaine man sentenced for arson in burning of his home

A man who doused his home with gasoline before being rescued from it as it burned in November 2014 has pleaded guilty to second-degree arson.

Samuel G. Schwinck, 29, was sentenced to four months in jail on March 19, 2015, in Whatcom County Superior Court. Schwinck was given credit for time served and was released from jail the day of his sentencing.

Firefighters and police responded to reports of heavy smoke coming from a home located at 437 D St. in Blaine around 5:15 p.m. Nov. 10. The home was in flames when law enforcement arrived.

Neighbors spotted a red gas can behind the house and notified a Blaine police officer. The officer then found Schwinck face down and unconscious inside, near the back door. The officer pulled Schwinck out, according to charging papers.

As Schwinck regained consciousness, he became “agitated and aggressive,” and told police he “just wanted to die,” according to the charges. He was put in a police car, where he banged his head against the bars on the windows. Police transported him to St. Joseph hospital’s emergency room for a mental health evaluation.

Schwinck was interviewed at the hospital and said his plan was to hang himself while the home burned. When he poured the gasoline in the living room, he said “it just blew up,” charging papers said. Schwinck thought the heater may have ignited the fire.

The next thing he remembered was police pulling him out of the house.

A dozen North Whatcom firefighters battled the fire. It destroyed the house’s interior. The single-story house, built in 1946, had a value of $72,931, according to the county assessor’s office.

Schwinck will undergo a mental health evaluation through the Department of Corrections and is on probation for one year, according to sentencing papers. He had no criminal history.