Suspect arrested in connection with Friday Harbor arson

SAN JUAN COUNTY, Wash. — SAN JUAN COUNTY, Wash. — The man suspected of causing a fire that caused millions of dollars in damage to businesses in Friday Harbor was arrested by Island County deputies, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a release.

Law enforcement said Dwight C. Henline was arrested at about 4:30 p.m. and taken to the Island County Jail.

The arrest comes after the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office obtained a warrant for Henline in connection with the arson fire on April 7 in downtown Friday Harbor.

Multiple agencies were called to battle the four-alarm fire, which lasted for hours.

Historical landmarks dating back to the late 1800s were destroyed in the fire, according to Kimberley Kimple of the San Juan County Fire Protection District #2.

On Friday, detectives from the sheriff’s office received information that Henline was at a residence in Langley, but they could not contact him.

Deputies served a search warrant and retrieved numerous pieces of evidence of the arson from the residence.

Johannes Krieger, the founder and owner of Crystal Seas Kayaking in Friday Harbor, was getting ready to go kite foiling on Saturday.

Before he could, he learned a man accused of burning down his business had been arrested.

“Getting out on the water for me is a therapeutic activity that gives me a chance to reset myself,” Krieger said. “And having known that before I did made that so much better.”

Chief Norvin Collins with San Juan Island and Rescue said multiple agencies helped investigate, including the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, the town’s fire marshal, the county fire marshal, the ATF, and NRT.

“Kudos to the arson dog that came up as part of the National Response Team (NRT),” Collins said on Saturday. “The dog hit a few different times and samples were taken. They’re sent off to a lab in Washington D.C., which is why we don’t know exactly what it is yet. But it is a flammable liquid.”

Collins said video footage also indicated the fire started on a deck behind Crystal Seas Kayaking.

“There didn’t seem to be any indication it was a direct target of us or any of our staff,” Krieger said. “But it was still one of those things where you just wonder. And you wonder if something else is going to happen. There’s definitely an uneasiness in that.”

Krieger opened Crystal Seas Kayaking in 1993. Krieger said his entire building has to be rebuilt, including a complete remodel of the interior.

“The building itself will probably be built fairly quickly, but it’ll take months and years to get into the rhythm and flow that we had been in for having this business for almost three decades.”

Crystal Seas Kayaking, which also provides biking and whale-watching tours, had to rebuild part of its business in 2013. A fire destroyed Downriggers restaurant and several other waterfront businesses in Friday Harbor.

“Ironically, our whale watching component was in the Downriggers building, which burnt down a few years back. So we went through that and had to learn the lessons of rebuilding. In that case, our section wasn’t actually burnt, but it was smoke and water damage then ultimately, the whole building got torn down. So that prepped us a little bit, I guess. But it doesn’t make it any easier,” he said. “I feel really confident that we will get through stronger in the long run. It’s going to be a tough and challenging year, and it’s going to be a tough and challenging year for all the other businesses, staff, and everybody else involved. It was really incredible to see the local community, the firefighters, the law enforcement, the federal agents - all of them, the town really comes together and figured this out and figured this out as quickly as they did. It’s been quite inspiring.”

Collins noted the historical significance of the arson.

“You’re never going to replace the history. It’s never going to be exactly the same. But you’re going to do the best you can that makes it fit with the community and a lot of that style. What you can hope for is that people have the good memories,” Collins said. “That’s why this whole thing, when it came out to be an arson fire, made it all that much sadder and more impactful to the community (that has) memories. You listen to the people that talk about the memories they’ve had growing up or visiting the islands so you’re never going to replace that… But the community’s going to do the best they can because we’re resilient.”