Arsonist sets fire to city of Bellingham vehicles in parking lot

A $30,000 pickup was destroyed in an early morning fire at a city of Bellingham parking lot Tuesday, and five other vehicles were damaged in what police and fire officials are investigating as arson.

Firefighters were dispatched at 3:52 a.m. to a fire in the northwest corner of the car park at B and Halleck streets behind the Bellingham Municipal Court building and quickly put out the flames, said Bellingham fire Assistant Chief Bill Hewett.

“It looked like someone had tried to light several vehicles on fire, but only one took off,” Hewett said.

Bellingham police Lt. Bob Vander Yacht said the fire started in the truck’s fuel neck and was deliberately set.

“They opened the (fuel access) door, took off the gas cap and stuck something inside,” Vander Yacht said. He said it was “too early to speculate” on a motive or suspect.

Vander Yacht said the destroyed truck was a 2012 half-ton Chevrolet Colorado with a quad cab, assigned to the Public Works Department’s engineering division. Attempts were made to torch five similar trucks, but “apparently it didn’t take off,” Vander Yacht said.

Those trucks showed scorch marks around the open fuel-access doors, and their fuel caps were left dangling. They will be repaired, Vander Yacht said.

As part of the investigation, police are asking anyone with information to call detectives at 360-778-8752, the tip line at 360-778-8611 or go online to

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @bhamMitty