Investigators smell something foul in portable toilet fires

May 13, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

UPDATED — 2:05 p.m. May 13, 2010

Something stinks in the Issaquah Highlands.

Fires set within about 24 hours of each other destroyed three portable toilets Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Officials suspect foul play in the Grand Ridge Elementary School and Central Park blazes.

Firefighters responded to the first fire at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. Crews contained the fire to a toilet set up near a portable classroom.

Firefighters responded to another fire in nearby Central Park at about 11 p.m. Wednesday. Responders discovered a pair of portable toilets ablaze.

Eastside Fire & Rescue and the Issaquah Police Department continue to investigate the fires, although little evidence remains.

“Those plastic structures burn so hot and so well that there’s nothing left,” Fire Marshal Bud Backer said.

The toilets destroyed in the Wednesday blaze had been rented by the city Parks & Recreation Department. Officials did not know the owner of the other toilet.

The blaze park damaged equipment stored in the container and, although the heat melted wrapping off rolls of artificial turf, left the turf unharmed. The flames also generated enough heat to burn garbage inside a nearby bear-resistant garbage receptacle.

City Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said she could not recall a similar incident during more than 20 years with the department.

Police estimated the Tuesday fire caused $1,000 in damage. Authorities estimated the subsequent blaze caused $11,700 in damage.

Highlands residents reported both blazes. Firefighters from Station 73 in the highlands responded to the fires.

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