Officials: Orcas Island fires may have been intentionally set

Officials: Orcas Island fires may have been intentionally set »Play Video
A home in Orcas Island was gutted in a fire that broke out July 19, 2013.
OLGA, Wash. - An unnerving set of circumstances is unfolding on Orcas Island in the small town of Olga.

Residents are worried after hearing two house fires, and a fire at a well-known art gallery may have been set intentionally.

A rash of break-ins also have neighbors worrying who might be the next target.

The two most recent fires broke out within a half-hour of one another Friday morning. The first tore through the roof of Olga Artworks, the second gutted a home less than two miles away.

"We're calling these fires at this time suspicious," says Chief Kevin O'Brien of Orcas Island Fire and Rescue.

Though nobody was hurt in either incident, the crime wave has shattered what so far has been a peaceful summer.

"Frankly it's rocked the island," Chief O'Brien says. "When we have something like this occur, this frequency of fires in this small of a community, it scares people."

Investigators are also trying to figure out whether a suspicious house fire in June may be related.

To make things more troubling, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office confirms it's investigating a rash of other break-ins in the area.

The fire chief held a town hall meeting Monday night, and about a hundred people showed up to express their concerns. The residents were assured investigators are doing everything possible to figure things out.

Investigators also encouraged neighbors to form watch groups, and report any information that could be helpful.