Henline has first court appearance in arson matter

A 33-year-old Friday Harbor man, Dwight C. Henline, is slated to be charged with arson in the first degree, a felony offense, in connection to a multiple-building fire on Spring Street.

Henline was arrested on April 16 in Langley, Washington after being named as a suspect in the Friday Harbor arson. He was transferred from Island County to San Juan County, where he appeared in Superior Court on April 20. An arraignment hearing will be held on May 2 at which time charges will be brought against the defendant.

Henline is being represented by San Juan County Public Defender Alex Fritz. Deputy Prosecutor Teresa Barnett requested a $1 million bond, citing the violent nature of the crime and $10 million in damages from the fire.

“Estimates will ultimately come from the insurance companies,” Barnett said, adding that $1 million was not much compared to the damages. She also stated that Henline had been untruthful to law enforcement and was a possible flight risk.

Fritz argued that the defendant had been cooperative with police in prior matters, and had recently reported an unlawful act when he witnessed it. He believed $10,000 bail was more appropriate.

Judge Katie Loring set bail at $500,000. Other conditions of Henline’s release included not going to 40, 50 or 80 Spring Street, surrendering firearms and other dangerous weapons and not leaving the state of Washington.

Details from the probable cause statement

On the morning of April 7, smoke billowed over the Town of Friday Harbor and areas of Spring and First Street were blocked off to traffic as firefighters worked to extinguish a fire that originated in the Windermere building.

According to the probable cause statement, a CCTV video from the Windermere office that faced toward the rear wooden deck area of Crystal Seas Kayaking shows a bright flash of light at approximately 10:04 p.m. on April 6. The flash of light lasted approximately 34 seconds before diminishing.

“Based upon an analysis of the video, it is the combined opinion of the subject matter experts from ATF national Response Team, that the video depicts fire dynamics consistent with an ignitable liquid,” reads the statement.

According to the ATF, it is not unusual for a fire caused by ignitable liquids to smolder for hours before flaring up once combustible materials dry out sufficiently.

On the evening of April 6, Henline was contacted by a Friday Harbor deputy while he was in his vehicle at the Washington State Ferries C-lot to serve a trespass warning letter for a local church property. Henline told Holt he was planning to leave the island and stay with a family member near Oak Harbor.

At 9:53 p.m., Henline is seen purchasing a bottle of lighter fluid from a local business, and at 10:04 p.m. the flash is visible on the CCTV footage. One minute later, a subject matching Henline’s description is seen quickly leaving the area between the Cask and Schooner and Crystal Seas Kayaking before retrieving a suitcase at the bottom of the steps by the Cheesecake Cafe. The same subject then moves toward the walk-on section of the ferry terminal, and at 10:13 p.m. Henline is seen boarding the ferry to Anacortes. At the Anacortes terminal, Henline is seen getting into a waiting sedan.