Photo by Bill Beezley/East Jefferson Fire-Rescue

Photo by Bill Beezley/East Jefferson Fire-Rescue

Squatter linked to fire that burns 2 buildings in Port Townsend

PORT TOWNSEND — Fire severely damaged two dilapidated buildings early Monday and involved two squatters who were trying to protect themselves from the cold, authorities said.

According to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Stringer, a 47-year-old man was attempting to start a small fire at about 12:40 a.m. in a shed on the 6000 block of state Highway 20, then became discouraged that he couldn’t stay warm and left the building.

At that time, another squatter, a 36-year-old woman who was in an adjacent house, called the Sheriff’s Office to report the fire.

When deputies came to the location, they extinguished the fire and left the premises.

Then an emergency call from the woman came in about two hours later reported that the fire had returned and spread.

East Jefferson Fire-Rescue personnel sent 13 firefighters from two locations and quickly knocked down the flames, according to agency spokesman Bill Beezley.

Both structures suffered extensive damage and are uninhabitable, according to fire department officials.

The woman, who was not identified, had been squatting in the abandoned building for about a year, East Jefferson Fire-Rescue said.

Stringer said his department knows the identity of the man and has not decided whether to file any criminal charges.

An investigation continues into the incident, he said.

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