Officials: Fire that tore through historic downtown Friday Harbor was intentionally set

Investigators say a large fire that ripped through historic downtown Friday Harbor last week was intentionally set. 

On April 7, a fire damaged six buildings on Spring Street, with three of them being deemed a total loss. An early investigation indicates that there is already $10 million in damages sustained.

A week after the fire, San Juan Island Fire and Rescue, Town of Friday Harbor, and San Juan County Sheriff’s Office (SJCSO) announced that they determined the fire was caused by arson.

The fire originated on the deck behind Crystal Seas Kayaking. Law enforcement agencies have not released any suspect information yet. 

Some of the businesses that have been damaged by the fire include; Crows Nest Coffee Shoppe, Herb’s Tavern, Crystal Seas Kayaking and Windermere Real Estate offices.

"I’m heartbroken, when the first wall came down, I just sat there and cried," said resident Dawn Haines.

Haines told FOX 13 News last week that her first bartending job was at Herb's Tavern. "There [was] a bell to ring and swinging wood doors. It had character," she said.

"A lot of my history just went away," said resident Tori Roberts.

"It’s just really, they are such mainstays. When you are driving up off the ferry, it’s the first thing you see is all those old buildings on the right side of the street when you come into town.  So it’s just really tragic that that happened," said Becki Day, Executive Director of San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce.  

Streets near the area of the fire were closed for nearly a week. As of April 12, all streets have opened, except for a portion of Spring Street, from Front Street to First Street. 

Businesses on the east side of First Street are still closed from the Toy Box down to Spring Street because those businesses have access to the burn site via the back of their buildings. 

When the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) releases the site, the Town of Friday Harbor will announce when those businesses are allowed to reopen. 

Some buildings impacted by the fire were built in the late 1800s, the oldest being built in 1809. 

The investigation is still ongoing. 

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