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Arsons swipe gas, torch culvert

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue firemen flush the charred culvert pipe. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
North Whidbey Fire and Rescue firemen flush the charred culvert pipe.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

A realtor's keen eye and damp weather conditions kept a small-scale arson attempt from turning into a precarious situation at Lyle Ridge off Scenic Heights Road on Monday afternoon.

Ron Muzzall, owner of Lyle Ridge which was formerly a part of the 600-acre Muzzall family ranch, received a call from a real estate agent driving by the development who noticed smoke coming from the retention pond pipe. Muzzall immediately called Tucker Lundstrom who was busy cutting weeds on the property. Lundstrom said he had not noticed the fire, but that his gas can was missing.

The perpetrators apparently lifted Lundrom's half-gallon gas can, poured its contents down the 70-foot plastic culvert and lit the fire, Muzzall said.

"We have an idea of who it may be," he said.

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue and the Island County Sheriff's Department responded to the incident that occurred about 3:30 p.m., and found a box of matches and the gas can spout near the culvert's opening.

"There was some pretty good melting inside," said Marc DeLeuze of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue. DeLueze, who lives nearby and was one of the first people to respond, said flames were burning from the pipe when he arrived.

The amount of damage to the culvert pipe was unknown as of Monday afternoon.

"It could be extensive," Muzzall said, estimating the pipe could cost up to $10,000 to replace.

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