Built in the early 1900s, the structure, which was located at the Woodinville Heritage Garden on the Sammamish Valley Farm, had recently been reshingled, painted and whitewashed by Eagle Scout Michael Bateman with much support from his dad and Troop 584. Two new cedar benches built by Alex Kegel and Eagle Scout Troop 573 were also stolen from the site.
When the fire department got the call shortly before midnight on November 23, they responded immediately, but unfortunately the cabin was engulfed in flames and unable to be saved.
“It was a grounder,” says Todd Legg, fire investigator for the King County Sheriff’s Office. “There’s basically nothing left to it.”
Legg had a couple of units out at the site, as well as a canine tracker, but they were unable to find any evidence.
“It was a perfect set up for a canine track because the air was cool and heavy,” he says. “But, we didn’t pick up any kind of scent.” He adds, “The building had no electricity and there weren’t any solvents within the cabin to spontaneously combust. The most likely scenario is that the fire was intentionally set.”
Because the structure was near the Sammamish River Trail, it was very accessible to the public, which Legg admits made it an easy target for someone wanting to burn it down.
He believes an open flame was used to ignite the fire. Though he doesn’t know who was involved in the incident, he notes that the conditions and scenario are sadly familiar.
“This type of situation has a ‘tinge’ of involvement by kids,” comments Legg.
According to Craig Muller, assistant fire marshall and supervisor of the fire investigation unit for the King County Sheriff’s Office, about 50 percent of the fires that occur countywide are intentionally set and of those, half are the work of juveniles.
“We investigate about 300 plus fires a year,” he says, “and it’s a 50-50 split between accidentals and intentionals.”
The Halver Farm Trapper’s Cabin case will remain open, despite the lack of evidence, in the hope that someone will come forward eventually with information.
“We can keep a case open for 10 years,” remarks Legg. “In these situations, we rely on the public for help. Maybe there’s an individual out there who saw something or knows something that can help us.”
The Arson Alarm Foundation has a reward fund for information leading to the arrest and filing of charges for the person or persons responsible for this fire.
To report any information, call the Fire Investigation Unit for the King County Sheriff’s Office at (206) 296-6670.