Investigators smell something foul in portable toilet fires

May 18, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

Something stinks in the Issaquah Highlands.

Fires set within about 24 hours of each other destroyed three portable toilets last week. 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. May 11. 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. May 12. Responders discovered a pair of portable toilets ablaze.

Sam Farley, with United Site Services, completes the installation and checklist on two portable toilets May 13 at Central Park to replace two destroyed by fire the night before. By Greg Farrar

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 May 12 blaze had been rented by the city Parks & Recreation Department. Officials did not know the owner of the other toilet.

The park blaze 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 May 11 fire caused damage worth $1,000. 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.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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One Response to “Investigators smell something foul in portable toilet fires”

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