Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Boys accused in Lynden fire appear in cour

By ROB PIERCY and Staff

LYNDEN, Wash. – Just two days after flames devoured a historic Lynden building, the two boys accused of starting the fire walked into court to face a judge.

Prosecutors say on Monday, one of the boys was celebrating his 14th birthday. He and his 13-year old friend went to the Delft Square Mall to smoke marijuana.

Up on the third floor they set fire to some papers in a frying pan, then set fire to a box and a shirt.

At that point, the fire got out of control. According to court papers, the boys tried to stomp it out, then tried using a fire extinguisher. When that failed, they left the building.

The two boys apparently talked with classmates about the fire, the classmates then told school security, who told police.

Court papers say one boy admitted involvement in the fire.

The fire destroyed the nearly block-long building, which has stood for 100 years.

In town on Wednesday, people were still talking about the fire and the loss.

"If it would have been during the night, we could have lost the whole downtown core," said Joel Kok.

"It's definitely sad," said Lean Hill. "There's a lot of people that are going to be struggling for a long time just because of one mistake."

The owner of an antique shop destroyed by the fire said his collection spanned 40 years, less than a quarter of it is insured and he doesn't know what he might be able to salvage.

"Everybody shopped in that store, everybody went there for everything they needed before the big malls came in," said Carol Preson, who owns a shop next door.

Smoke and water damage will keep her closed until July.

Like so many, she can't believe a piece of town history was lost to what one of the boys described to police as "messing around."

"I hope it teaches them a hard lesson, this is just not the thing they need to be doing," said Preston.

Bail was set at $1,500 for both teens. They will be arraigned next week on charges of first degree arson and first degree burglary.

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