Police investigate July 4 fire
August 28, 2008 · Updated 8:54 AM
MARYSVILLE Police say a Fourth of July house fire may not be arson as originally suspected but the homes owner and some neighbors still think the blaze wasnt an accident.
A one-story home near Grove Street in central Marysville was badly damaged by a fire in a garage, with a car completely destroyed along with many of the furnishings. According to the owner the house was declared a total loss by insurers.
Police initially suspected illegal fireworks caused the blaze, and one neighbor said a group of teenagers might have intentionally targeted the home with bottle rockets because the owner had complained and asked them to stop lighting the fireworks earlier in the day.
But a Marysville Police Department spokesman said the incident is still under investigation and that the department has a person of interest they are looking at. But what was initially reported as an intentional act might not be what some neighbors say happened, and the department is now considering the blaze to be suspicious in origin, according to Cmdr. Ralph Krusey.
Assistant fire marshal David Van Beek of the Marysville Fire District said he was not involved in the investigation but acknowledged hearing of reports that some juveniles might have intentionally directed the fireworks into the house, but he also heard more accounts saying the rockets landed on top of the garage.
It seems like it would be relatively easy for them to determine whether it started on the inside or the outside, Van Beek said.
Owner Carolyn Barkley said she was lucky to get out alive with her dog after the blaze. She had taken a nap that afternoon to get away from the noise and confusion of all the illegal fireworks during the nations birthday and had closed all her windows because her dog was panicking. When she woke up the house was dark and the smoke alarm was going off.
I grabbed my glasses and my puppy and I just got out, Barkley recalled. I was asleep. It could have killed me and it could have killed my puppy.
The house and her sedan were declared a total loss by her insurance agency, she said. Her rubberstamp collection and a series of valuable Christmas ornaments were destroyed, along with her late fathers U.S. Navy medals and memorabilia. The house was insured but Barkley said it never occurred to her to insure her Granny-mobile, a sedan with 80,000 miles on the odometer.
I never dreamed it would blow up in my garage, she said.
The fire hit at a bad time, after she recently lost her husband and father; Barkley said she wont tell her ailing mother for fear it would break her heart. Last year she lost most of her valuables in a burglary and her voice shook as she said she believes this incident was intentional.
This has uprooted my life, Barkley said. Whoever did this, I hope their karma catches up with them someday. I feel theres nothing to go back to. It just breaks my heart.
The 62-year-old widow was living at the Cascadian Retirement Home in Everett after the fire and she raved about the group who took her in and have not asked for a penny, opening their doors to her and her puppy Bailey, a six-year-old black and white Shitzu. She found an apartment earlier this week to live in permanently. Her house was fully insured and she has received living expenses and help from her carrier, GMAC.
If I can tell anyone anything, its look at their policies, Barkley said, reminding them to photograph the contents of the homes.
Neighbor Mary Berryman said she was incensed that Barkleys home was damaged by illegal fireworks. Berryman lives across the street from the victim.
Im a little disappointed, she was one of the sweetest neighbors in this whole neighborhood; widowed for several years now, Berryman said. Just being around something like that upset me.
Berryman has lived here for only a few years after residing in Virginia, where even sparklers are outlawed. She said she would be speaking to the Marysville City Council to urge an outright ban on all fireworks and hoped to start a dialogue with the Tulalip Tribes to convince them to stop selling fireworks at Boom City. She said she couldnt believe the riot of noise during the Fourth of July.
I had drunks all over my neighborhood shooting fireworks at each other, Berryman said. I, of course, thought they were crazy. It still went on after the house burned. You had police there and firefighters putting out the fire and it was still going on all around the place. There were so many fireworks going on around my place, it lit the sky. It was just like daylight only in different colors.