Friday, February 13, 2004
Last year there were at least two arsons within the Sunnyside City limits that Sunnyside Fire Department Battalion Chief Lloyd Hazzard remembers clearly.
One home in particular, a trailer in Eakin trailer park located on Yakima Valley Highway, was set ablaze two weeks in a row. Suspects were seen fleeing the vacant trailer, but no arrests have been made.
Since the fires last summer there has been an additional building torched. An apartment building on Eighth Street slated for demolition mysteriously caught fire. The fire razed the entire building.
Sunnyside Police Department detectives also continue to investigate the arson of the old K-Mart building on Yakima Valley Highway that occurred about two years ago. The building sustained damage and a stolen car was found inside, according to police officials.
Evidence from last year's fires is still be tested at the Washington State Patrol crime lab, according to Det. Sgt. Jose Trevino of the Sunnyside Police Department.
Hazzard said there are several reasons for arson. He said some start fires to claim insurance money, for revenge or to cover up other crimes.
He said fire investigators look for entrance tampering, fire patterns on the floors, obvious things such as gasoline cans in the building and where the fire started when determining if a blaze was intentionally set.
Hazzard added that it is often difficult to catch arsonists, even though they often leave evidence behind.
Last year, Sunnyside firefighters held an arson class, where they were shown fire patterns and other tales of an arsonists work. Hazzard said he and Aaron Markham will be attending a week-long class on arson next week. The class was made available to Sunnyside fire investigators through a grant, he added.
The local law enforcement agency is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the arsons, he added.
The Washington Insurance Council and the Arson Alarm Foundation are also offering rewards for those who help investigators arrest and convict arsonists. Up to $10,000 is available annually to those with information.
. Melissa Browning can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org