Authorities said an SUV was torched early Friday morning in the Goodwill Industries parking lot in Port Angeles. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Authorities said an SUV was torched early Friday morning in the Goodwill Industries parking lot in Port Angeles. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Vehicle fires linked to arson

Multiple tampering reports

PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles police have identified an arson suspect in vehicle fires that blazed in the city late Thursday night and early Friday morning, Deputy Police Chief Jason Viada said.

The fires were within six blocks of each other, one between South Oak and South Cherry streets on West Fourth Street, the other in the Goodwill Industries parking lot in the 600 block of South Lincoln Street.

“We currently do have a suspect,” Viada said.

A late-model SUV that burned in the lot had been parked next to the sidewalk and facing South Lincoln, easily visible to motorists traveling a thoroughfare that doubles as U.S. Highway 101.

The Fourth Street fire was reported at 10:33 p.m. Thursday, according to a police report, and the parking lot fire at about 4:15 a.m. Friday, Viada said Friday.

“Cars were intentionally set on fire,” he said.

“It certainly appears that they were deliberately set, and it appears that gasoline is the accelerant.

“We’re investigating both incidents, which appear to be similar.”

At around the same time as the fires, the Peninsula Communications dispatch center received reports of vehicles being tampered with and gas caps being damaged, Viada said.

Viada said the suspect was seen by at least one witness and was talked to briefly by an officer.

“Mulitple witnesses reported seeing a suspicious male in the area,” the department said on its Facebook page.

The vehicle in the parking lot, a late-model SUV, was destroyed.

The fire that burned a late ’90s white diesel-powered truck in front of a residence on Fourth Street was called in by the owner’s spouse, according to the police report.

Flames were reported to be coming from the middle and front of the vehicle.

Both fires were a few blocks equidistant from the Port Angeles Fire Department.

To aid in their investigation, detectives are seeking access to video surveillance taken around 10:23 p.m. Thursday in the 100-200 block of West Fourth Street.

They also are seeking video surveillance taken around 4:14 a.m. Friday in the area of Rite Aid, Goodwill and the 500-700 block of South Lincoln and South Chase Street.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

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