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Man charged federally in fires in downtown Friday Harbor

May 2, 2022 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — Authorities say they have filed a federal arson charge against a man accused of setting a fire that destroyed or damaged several businesses in downtown Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island, shortly before the summer tourist season.

The fire the night of April 6 seriously damaged or destroyed the Crystal Seas Kayaking building, a Windermere Real Estate office, and the building housing Crow’s Nest Coffee and Herb’s Tavern.

Local police and agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said they identified the suspect as 33-year-old Whidbey Island resident Dwight Christianson Henline from surveillance video and sales records showing he purchased lighter fluid at a nearby convenience store just before the fire was set.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Monday, Henline boarded a ferry off the island after setting the fire.

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Court records did not list an attorney for Henline who might speak on his behalf.

Seattle U.S. Attorney Nick Brown noted in a news release that the fire caused millions of dollars in damage in a very small community and said it’s a priority to hold the arsonist accountable.

Arson carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison.