Arsonist sets fire to city vehicles

Arsonist sets fire to city vehicles »Play Video
SEATTLE - Twelve vehicles were set on fire Monday morning at a city of Seattle parking lot known as the Charles Street garage.

Investigators say the fires started about 2:30 a.m. and one car with a natural gas tank exploded.

"Ripped the car apart and blew debris back approximately 150 feet back," Deputy Fire Chief Michael Jurus said. "Fortunately there was no firefighters standing in that immediate vicinity."

The explosion was heard more than a mile away and tore the car in half.

"It was just one very loud boom, that was it," said Patrick Kelley, who was asleep in his Capitol Hill apartment. "Just peace and quiet, laid in my bed, then 'boom.' Very very loud."

Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb said the explosion was so strong that pieces of the car were thrown onto the freeway interchange that passes above the secure parking lot.

"Fortunately nobody was hurt," he said.

Seattle Fire Department Lieutenant Harold Webb said the fires were intentionally set and that it appears whoever was responsible set the cars on fire on at a time.

The lot is surrounded by a fence topped with razor wire, and investigators did not immediately find any places where an arsonist may have cut or forced their way into the area, Whitcomb said.

"We don't know if it was one person or more than one person that is responsible," Whitcomb said. "One person was seen in the vicinity of this parking lot, and that is somebody we would certainly like to talk to."

Police and fire investigators spent the morning searching the scene for clues, but no arrests have been made.