ELLENSBURG — Authorities have reason to believe two fires at unoccupied buildings near the corner of 10th Avenue and Water Street on Wednesday night were set intentionally, according to Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Rich Elliott, and he asked residents to report any suspicious activity in the area to police.
Witnesses report an individual, possibly a youth, leaving the scene of one building with a gas can in his hand, Elliott said, “and then we have a second fire next door.”
Firefighters arrived at the two unoccupied buildings at 304 and 306 W. 10th Ave. about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The fires weren’t burning intensely when firefighters arrived, he said, and they were able to quickly stop the flames.
Elliott said there didn’t seem to be any reason the two structures were targeted, and it’s possible the fires might have been a crime of opportunity if they really were set intentionally.
“Somebody gets away with it once, they generally do this again, so we want people to be very much aware of what’s going on,” he said. “Report anything, take a phone picture — anybody that doesn’t look like they’re supposed to be where they’re supposed to be. Then we can sort it out later.”
By about 9 p.m., firefighters were engaged in limited overhaul of the buildings, Elliott said, trying to keep the scene as pristine as possible for investigators.
He said the Ellensburg Police Department would follow up on the investigation into the fires.
Four engines responded to the two fires, along with about 25 firefighters, Elliott said, and additional firefighters had staffed two fire stations in case of more fires.