First court appearance Feb. 10 for Blue Water Inn arson suspect

The suspect was apprehended by two sheriff’s patrol deputies at 4:31 a.m. in a forested area between the Billy Johnson Skate Park and Village Green Community Center

Firefighters extinguish a fire on the top floor of the Blue Water Inn annex, Feb. 9. (Michele Laboda/North Kitsap Fire & Rescue)

KINGSTON — The 60-year-old suspect in the Blue Water Inn fire is described by the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office as a transient person who is known to area law enforcement agencies from previous contacts and incidents.

“He was a registered guest at the inn,” sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson reported. “The suspect has stayed there previously on several occasions. There’s no information available that indicates that he was registered at the inn with anyone else.”

The fire was reported to Kitsap 9-1-1 at 3:44 a.m. Feb. 9. “Sheriff’s patrol deputies arrived within a minute or so as they were less than an eighth of a mile away at our small Kingston substation on Illinois Avenue NE,” Wilson reported. “Once on-scene, deputies checked the hotel to ensure that all guests were accounted for and no one still remained inside. Altogether, there were about 17 guests registered at the inn, staying in 12 rooms. All had been evacuated. There were no injuries reported as a result of the fire.”

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, the primary fire service agency, was assisted by Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Navy Region Northwest Fire & Emergency Services, Poulsbo Fire Department, and Poulsbo Police Department.

The suspect was apprehended by two sheriff’s patrol deputies at 4:31 a.m. in a forested area between the Billy Johnson Skate Park and the Village Green Community Center. “He was examined and treated by fire EMT personnel for minor injuries (from running through thick brush containing thorns), then interviewed by sheriff’s detectives,” Wilson reported.

The suspect told detectives that he was responsible for the fire, Wilson reported earlier in the

The suspect was transported to Kitsap County Jail where he was booked for first-degree arson. Bail was set at $100,000. He is expected to make an initial court appearance at 3 p.m. Feb. 10 in Kitsap County Superior Court.

“We do not anticipate any additional arrests,” Wilson reported. “The Kitsap County Fire Marshal is conducting a parallel investigation to determine the cause, source and location of the fire origination.”

Our earlier story:

KINGSTON — A 60-year-old Kingston man told investigators he set the fire at the Blue Water Inn early Feb. 9, and was in Kitsap County Jail later that day on $100,000 bail.

The man, who had been staying at the inn, was detained at 4:30 a.m. by Kitsap County sheriff’s deputies for questioning,sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson reported.

The fire forced the evacuation of the Blue Water Inn on Highway 104 in Kingston. There were no injuries reported.

“Firefighters were able to limit most damage to [the] building of origin,” North Kitsap Fire & Rescue spokeswoman Michele Laboda reported.

Dylan Umphress was awakened by a loud bang on the floor above his room. Then, the sound of crackling and the smell of smoke.

“The whole room above me was on fire,” Umphress said.

At 8:33 a.m., about five hours after guests of the 21-room motel were evacuated, Umphress and his girlfriend, Tanya Bodni,were in their car across the street as the American Red Cross worked to find accommodations for them and other evacuees.

Umphress said an upstairs guest had been acting strangely that night. Umphress was awakened by the sound of a man banging on a room door, followed by a verbal exchange. Umphress said he went back to sleep and, about 10 minutes later,“I heard a loud boom and crackling above us.”

The back corner of the hotel was on fire — “the whole back end of it,” Umphress said. He called the front desk and the staff went door to door evacuating the hotel.

“They did a real good job getting everybody out,” Umphress said.

Umphress said he used to own a home in Kingston and now lives in Seattle. He was in town to go through his storage unit across the street. Meanwhile, personal possessions that they brought with them remained in their hotel room.

At 3:44 a.m., an emergency call was made to North Kitsap Fire & Rescue for what was believed to be a brush fire. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they discovered it was a fire in the back annex of the inn, Laboda reported.

‘Home to several residents’

Six hotel rooms are uninhabitable, Laboda said. The exterior of the main front building sustained minor smoke and heat damage.

Battalion Chief Steve Murray and crew were the first to arrive and they got the fire under control within 10 to 20 minutes,and fully extinguished 10 minutes after that, Laboda reported.

Highway 104 was closed for approximately two hours; motorists were detoured onto nearby roads.

When crews arrived, they found “significant fire on both ends of the upstairs building,” Laboda reported.

“Red Cross is currently on scene to assist both visiting occupants as well as permanent occupants of the hotel, to find both permanent and temporary housing while the investigation takes place. The 20-unit hotel is home to multiple residents. I want to recognize the owner and manager of the Blue Water. He was banging on doors and making circuits around the building even before the fire department arrived.”

— With reporting by Sophie Bonomi

Fire damaged a top-floor room of the Blue Water Inn, Feb. 9. (Michele Laboda/North Kitsap Fire & Rescue)

Fire damaged a top-floor room of the Blue Water Inn, Feb. 9. (Michele Laboda/North Kitsap Fire & Rescue)

Fire damaged a top-floor room of the Blue Water Inn, Feb. 9. (Michele Laboda/North Kitsap Fire & Rescue)

The exterior of the Blue Water Inn sustained heat and smoke damage, Feb. 9. (Michele Laboda/North Kitsap Fire & Rescue)

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