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OCTOBER 6, 1997

Local News

Saybrook may form Block Watch to fight crime

  by Andrew Walgamott
   EAST RIDGE--Sparked by a string of recent arsons and vandalism in their neighborhood, residents of the Saybrook development met with fire and police officials last week and looked for ways to protect themselves against future incidents. At the center of resident's concern is safety. Three times in the last year, a person or persons has wandered the neighborhood lighting fires. On July 23, four garbage cans were set on fire in the early morning hours Houses have been invaded as well.
  
   While most fires have occurred near the street, one man asked, "When are the fires going to erupt in the garage or in your house when you're asleep?" Firestarters have already been that close. A mother of three said she'd awoken at 3 a.m. October 6, 1996 to find her doorstep burning. The ringing of her doorbell was the only warning something was amiss. Residents wondered who was causing the damage. One couple said four teens caught after breaking into their garage came from Renton and Duvall.
  
   King County assistant Fire Marshal Bill Harm said that though there was no indication the arsonist was from Saybrook, the suspect probably had a connection somehow. "I have no doubt that somebody in your neighborhood knows who did it," Harm said. King County Police Officer Mark Childers suggested residents form a Block Watch, a call echoed by Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District Public Fire Educator Dave Leggett. Leggett said merely posting a 'Block Watch' sign at the entrance of a development "sometime...turns them around right there."
  
   Several in the audience seemed ready to organize. In the meanwhile, the key to stopping the arsons and vandalism is proactive community involvement, officials said. "Prevention is by far the best avenue to take but that won't guarantee you won't be a victim of a fire or break-in," Harm said. On fires, Harm said relatively minor housekeeping efforts could make houses harder targets. He said eliminate combustibles around the home, lock garages at night and secure flammable liquids. A junior high school teacher in the audience gave several tips as well. He said drive around the neighborhood once before parking for the night, check out what dogs are barking at, and keep a camera handy.
  
   Harm said watch for children with a fascination with fire. "We are all capable of having kids who set fires." Anyone with information on the fires is asked to call the King County Fire Marshal's office at 296-6670. Residents with fire-related concerns can call Dave Leggett, WFLSD public fire educator at 483-2131 ext. 3232.