LANGLEY, Wash. – An early morning fire destroyed two homes and damaged another on Whidbey Island, and now federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation.
Island County deputies arrested one man in connection to the case, claiming he set the fire on purpose.
Firefighters have been watching out for hot-spots since early Thursday morning.
Neighbors told Q13 News they woke up to the sound of an explosion.
When firefighters arrived, they found one home was already totally consumed by flames and another was burning, according to authorities.
Families were inside both the homes when the fire started. Incredibly, police said, nobody was hurt.
“We heard this loud explosion, then we noticed smoke a few minutes later,” said neighbor Marla Quinn. “This is paradise here on Whidbey Island. I’m very, very surprised.”
Hours later, the rubble was still smoldering.
A single wall was all that’s left of one home while portions of the roof on the house next door collapsed. Both homes appeared to be total losses.
Several cars in driveways at the scene also burned in the fire
Police believe they caught their suspect not long after the fire was called into 911.
“Shortly after the fire started we took a person into custody, a 48-year-old white male by the name of Blake Fountain,” said Island County Sheriff Mark Brown.
Charred embers fell onto the nearby golf course about 50 yards away from the fire.
Neighbors said if the wind had been blowing differently, the damage could have been worse.
“There’s these big huge trees everywhere and to think they could have caught fire, and this ended up to be two homes when it could have been a whole block of homes,” said Quinn.
The Island County Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t elaborate on a possible motive for the arson, but was thankful everybody inside the homes were able to escape unharmed.
“Preliminarily it looks like everybody has been accounted for,” said Brown. “There may be minor injuries but I don’t know that we had any serious injuries and we’re grateful for that.”
The suspect in this case is expected to make his first court appearance Friday afternoon where he could be facing a first-degree arson charge.