Suspected arsonist who set Lynnwood church bus afire arrested

Surveillance video shows a man coming up to a church bus, then flames break out a short time later.

LYNNWOOD, Wash. - A man who police believe set fire to a church bus in Lynnwood early Monday morning has been arrested.

The blaze started about 1 a.m. at the Calvary Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church, and was fully involved when crews arrived at the scene, Lynnwood Fire officials said.

The bus was destroyed, while a nearby fence was melted and part of the church's basement parking lot suffered burn damage. There was nobody in the building or the bus when crews arrived, and there were no injuries reported.

"It was pretty obvious he wasn't really concerned," said the Rev. Gary Blaylock. "When you see the (surveillance) video he nonchalantly walked up to the bus, looked around it, looked in it, obviously lit it on fire, then kind of just walked away. Something to do. (There) wasn't any concern in his face."

The fire destroyed a tour bus that Blaylock said was used for church events.

"You're hurting a group of people. What you hurt is all these kids now that aren't getting on this. You're hurting all these teenagers that aren't going to an event. You're hurting all.these senior ladies that might go some place and that's what you're hurting. You're taking that away."

Surveillance video from the building shows a man walk up and open the passenger door, and then smoke is seen billowing from the van a short time after the man walks away.

Around 11:30 a.m., a Lynnwood police officer noticed a man walking along the 20200 block of Highway 99 that matched the suspect's description and was wearing similar clothing to the man caught on the surveillance video.

The 44-year-old suspect was arrested for investigation of arson, police said.

About two hours before the bus fire, a BMW parked outside a home in the 14600 block of 36th Avenue West was set on fire.

"I was shaking," said Alanna Roe.

Roe said her husband was smoking a cigarette on the porch Sunday night when he noticed his car light was on. He opened the door and a cloud of smoke emerged from the vehicle. Roe grabbed a garden hose and her husband got a fire extinguisher to put out the flames.

Roe said what's most disturbing is that she believes whoever set the car on fire watched it burn.

"We found that someone had taken a chair from our front porch and placed it on the other side of the fence and was waiting for the explosion to happen-- sitting, smoking cigarettes in our front porch chair"

Snohomish County Fire Marshal Ed Hardesty said the BMW was intentionally set on fire but did not provide any other details.

According to Lynnwood police, when the bus fire suspect was arrested on Monday he was carrying a vehicle diagnostic scanner. Investigators are trying to confirm if it came from the BMW that was set on fire.

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