Teen suspected in ‘Nightmare’ arson

October 27, 2009

By J.B. Wogan

Dana Young was the one who carved the Styrofoam rock, painted it and dressed it for the not-so-cowardly lion set. She estimated $1,000 worth of labor and materials went into that set piece for Nightmare at Beaver Lake.Then, the morning of Oct. 24, she learned that it burned to the ground.

“It was ash. I mean, there was nothing left,” Young said. “It’s disappointing.”

Eastside Fire & Rescue responded to calls about a fire in Beaver Lake Park at about 8:50 a.m. Oct. 24, according to Fire Marshall Tim Pilling. Someone had burned a Styrofoam rock and parts of a scarecrow mannequin.

“We saw the bloom, found it, and put out the fire easily with a couple of pressurized water cans,” Pilling said.

He added that upon arriving at the scene, he called the King County Sheriff’s Office, because he saw what he described as potential evidence. He said he turned the case over to the county’s Fire Arson Investigations Unit at about 12:30 p.m. that day.

Pilling noted that the fire’s ramifications could have been worse.

“It was overcast, no measurable breeze, low 50s, damp,” he said, explaining that the fire could have spread much farther and faster in a drier season.

Sgt. John Urquhart, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said a witness saw someone lighting the fires with a lighter and provided a description of the suspect. After additional follow-up, police concluded that the witness had correctly identified the suspect, a 14-year-old boy from Sammamish. Police did not arrest him but have recommended that he be charged with three counts of arson.

Anita Boser, press secretary for the Rotary Club of Sammamish, noted that the damage could have been worse.

“I’m, of course, sad. I’m grateful that there wasn’t more damage and I’m grateful that nobody was hurt,” she said.

Nightmare at Beaver Lake serves as a fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Sammamish, with proceeds going to the eradication of polio, support groups for domestic violence and educational scholarships, according to club president Norm Bottenberg. He said the event usually generates about $50,000 each year, after paying their partner, Scare Productions, for designing the sets, providing special effects and training the actors.

Bottenberg said the burnt props will not stop Nightmare from Beaver Lake from continuing through Oct. 31, as scheduled.

“As I say, the show must go on,” Bottenberg said.

J.B. Wogan: 392-6434, ext. 247, or jbwogan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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