Suspected arsonist arrested, tied to Olympia fires

VIDEO: Suspected arsonist behind bars following Olympia fires

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A suspected arsonist has been arrested after a series of fires in Olympia early Monday morning.

The first suspicious fire began at Cambridge Court Apartments at around 3 a.m. Flames destroyed the community building and tore through the fitness center and attic.

About 30 minutes later, police said someone set Hidden Creek Community Church on fire.

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“The individual came through the windows, and then was able to light a few boxes on fire, and then it went from there,” said pastor, Tim Heffer, of Hidden Creek Community Church.

Heffer said cameras captured the person breaking in and starting the fire.

The church serves meals to more than 100 people every Wednesday. Now, all the food people rely on is gone.

“Our entire food distribution section has been gutted by flames,” said Heffer.

At 4:14 a.m., firefighters responded to a third fire a few blocks away at Fern Crest Apartments.

“I can’t believe someone did this. I mean, there’s people living here. We’re lucky we got out alive,” said resident Claudia Greenamyer.

Investigators said the fire destroyed eight of the 12 units and displaced 20 people.

“There was obviously an accelerant used. It burned quick, it burned fast, and then it spread across through the ceiling,” said resident Corey Beebe.

Beebe said the person who started the fire also set his van on fire.

“I can’t express what kind of anger I have right now, but I’m so grateful that they caught that guy,” he said.

No injuries have been reported.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent two special agents and other investigators to the scene to help with the investigation.

When combined, the fires did more than a million dollars in damages.

Despite the church being destroyed, Heffer said the church will still set up a food distribution station in its parking lot Wednesday to help people in need.