Bellingham police: Serial arsonist strikes 5 times in past week

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Police are on the hunt for an arsonist who has struck five times in the last week.

One of the latest targets was a preschool.

The fires are happening between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Investigators worry the arsons could escalate – and someone could get hurt.

Craig Mooney, owner of A Step Ahead Bilingual Learning Center, was stunned to learn the small fire that destroyed his garbage cans and part of his fence is connected to a string of arsons.

“Disbelief,” he said, “that somebody would just randomly burn garbage.”

Mooney’s surveillance cameras caught a dark figure walking past the garbage cans just before they burst into flames.

Police believe the same person lit five separate fires near Sunset Drive in the past week.

The scorch marks are still on the wall behind the Safeway and Goodwill stores.

Police said the latest arson happened Wednesday morning behind a shopping center where someone deliberately lit a Dumpster full of cardboard on fire.

“This is the type of behavior that could cause serious injury to someone and even someone could be killed,” said Lt. Bob Vander Yacht with the Bellingham Police Department.

Firefighters have so far been able to put out all of the fires before causing substantial damage.

“I’m kind of happy that it was just the garbage cans,” said Mooney.

Police are asking neighbors to call 911 to report suspicious activity.