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Arson suspect to appear in court Wednesday; was on probation for 2021 DUI

Arson suspect Dwight Henline, 33, of Friday Harbor was arrested Saturday afternoon, April 16, 2022 in Island County by law enforcement officers. He is suspected of setting the April 7 fire that destroyed four buildings and six businesses in downtown Friday Harbor. Two of the buildings dated back to the 1880s. Damage was estimated to be $10 million. No one was injured in the blaze that was called out at 3:46 a.m.

Accelerant was found on the decking of the Crystal Seas Kayaking building. Sharon Kivisto photo

San Juan Island Fire and Rescue firefighters were assisted by firefighters from Orcas Island, Lopez Island and the mainland joined San Juan Island Fire and Rescue firefighters.  Washington State Ferries diverted two ferries to help in transporting fire equipment and personnel. 

ATF inspectors investigating the cause of the fire. Brad Pillow photo

One week after the fire, the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team (NRT) determined the cause of the fire was arson

San Juan County Sheriff’s Office obtained a warrant Friday, April 15 for the arrest of Dwight C. Henline in connection with the April 7 arson fires. 

On April 16, the Sheriff's Office was told Henline was at a residence in Langley. Deputies attempted to contact him but were unsuccessful. A search warrant was served on the residence for evidence of the arson and numerous articles were removed. 

Henline will appear in court  Wednesday, April 20 2022 according to the Undersheriff.

Previous conviction in San Juan County: 

He appeared in San Juan County District Court in January 2022 where he was sentenced to two days in jail and five years probation for a DUI after he pleaded guilty.

The DUI crash occurred in July 2021. He drove a car across a lawn containing elaborate vegetable gardens, and hit a house where two people were asleep. His blood alcohol level was .234. 

On January 12, 2022, he was sentenced by San Juan County District Court Judge Carolyn Jewett to two days in jail (364 days with all but two days suspended)  and five years probation. Mandatory fines were waived by the judge. Restitution of $1,598  and a $10 a month probation fee were imposed. 

The sentence was recommended by San Juan County Prosecuting Office. The assistant prosecutor explained the recommendation saying on one hand Henline "wants to take responsibility" and on the other hand this was a "very frightening incident." While making the recommendation, the prosecution disregarded citations Henline received after July 2021 for driving while license suspended or revoked, and not having insurance. The prosecution asked that the citations be dismissed. Judge Jewett dismissed those charges. 

The defense attorney emphasized Henline's mental health concerns.  "He's been trying to deal with mental health conditions he has," Attorney Fritz said. "He has a lot of concerns. He is really embarrassed and wants to resolve it today. Feels terrible for what happened. He has some resources now to get some help."

“This is a really really serious first DUI,” Jewett said.“I hope you can recognize how lucky you are to be sitting here, to have the opportunity to sit here in court and address this. It’s very lucky that you weren’t seriously injured or killed in this crash. It’s also very lucky that no one else was injured." 

According to his Facebook page, Henline moved to Friday Harbor on June 18, 2021.

 

 

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