Port Angeles explosion seen as arson

Car dealership damaged

PORT ANGELES — A Jan. 28 explosion that shattered a car dealership window and shook a nearby house is under investigation as an arson case, police said.

The remnants of what appeared to be a wrapper for an M-80 explosive device were found on the ground outside the damage inside Gray Motors, 1937 E. First St., according to a police report.

Police were continuing to review video footage of the area last week, Deputy Police Chief Jason Viada said.

The blast, which left the inside of the building strewn with tiny bits of glass, did not result in injuries, he said.

The incident is being investigated as a second-degree arson case, a Class B felony punishable by 10 years in prison, because the detonation caused property damage and appears to have been intentionally set, Viada said.

“It looks like an explosive device was set on a windowsill and went off,” he said.

According to surveillance video footage from Gray Motors, the explosion went off at about 4:30 a.m. Jan. 28.

A male is seen crouching next to the window and igniting what appears to be a fuse on the device and placing it next to the window.

“Shortly after, the device explodes,” according to the report.

A witness who lives near the dealership said he heard an explosion that shook his house.

He said he saw a person with a headlamp standing near the damaged window who left westbound on a bicycle.

Another witness said she saw a male riding away from Gray Motors on a bike that had a trailer attached and something orange on the bike.

Video footage from a nearby business shows a person riding away westbound at about 4:49 a.m.

The person riding the bike was pulling a trailer.

Video footage from another nearby business shows the person with his bicycle in the area but from a distance that does not show the person’s face, according to the report.

M-80s, a barrel-shaped device with the fuse sticking out the side, are illegal under state and federal law. They can be sold, possessed and discharged only on Indian reservations, according to the State Patrol (wsp.wa.gov).

They contain flash powder, black powder or materials that are sensitive to shock, and can injure or kill people, according to the State Patrol.

They are commonly red or brown, with an average size of 1 inch long and about a half-inch diameter (nh.gov).

Anyone with information about the explosion is asked to call 360-452-2345 and talk with an officer.


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsula dailynews.com.