3 teens of interest in pine cone factory fire

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — The investigation into a fire that destroyed an old pine cone factory on the same day it was sold could take a week, investigators told KOIN 6 News.

The building on NE 28th Street was once owned by the Brown Seed Company but was sold to a California buyer just before the fire started.

Fire engulfed this barn in the 12600 block of NE 28th in Vancouver, March 14, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Fire engulfed this barn in the 12600 block of NE 28th in Vancouver, March 14, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli said they’re making progress and the search for three persons of interest continues.

The three persons of interest in the case are teens around 16 or 17:

  • One is about white, 5-feet-8, 130 pounds with brown hair in a buzz cut. He had a skateboard.
  • The second is white, between 5-9 and 6-feet, with brownish blonde collar-length hair. He had a yellow and white mountain bike.
  • The third is Hispanic, about 5-7 and 140 pounds, with short black hair. He was wearing white shorts to the knees, a light blue t-shirt, a light blue hat and was carrying a camera.

Witnesses told investigators they saw one of the teens with what looked like a gas canister.

Scarpelli said they are now into the “physical portion of the investigation. We already have the sworn witness statements.”

The realtor who just sold the property, George Lewis, said there were frequently transients and teens on the site who would burn fires to stay warm.

“Everybody’s paid and a few hours later the fire starts, so it’s kind of weird,” Lewis said. But he didn’t think there was motivation on the part of the new owner to burn down that building.

“Some of the other buildings have environmental clean up and if I was going do something I would do it to the buildings that require environmental clean up, not to the ones that are fairly clean like this one,” he told KOIN 6 News. “There are bigger buildings to clean up there so it wasnt like somebody said this is an easy way to clean up a site. There’s still four or five buildings to go out there.”

The company that bought the land, Investment Concepts Inc. in Orange County, California, has not yet returned a call for comment from KOIN 6 News. The company intended to turn the property into more than 100 apartments on the 8.6 acre plot.

A $10,000 reward is being offered by the Arson Alarm Foundation and the Vancouver Fire Arson Team for information leading to an arrest and prosecution of the people responsible.

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