String Of Business Fires In Colville: Are They Arson? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

String Of Business Fires In Colville: Are They Arson?

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COLVILLE, Wash. – When Saundra's Furniture store in Colville suddenly went up in flames Saturday night, a lot of people who live in the small town began to wonder if an arsonist had struck again. 

There is no official word yet from fire investigators as to what caused that fire, but residents reported seeing a suspicious car parked outside just seconds before the flames erupted. 

It's an all-too-familiar scenario for many in Colville, including the owner of Davis Auto Repair, Joe Schultz.  Six weeks ago, it was his business on fire. 

"I got a call at 3 in the morning, and I came down here and the whole back of the building was on fire," he told KHQ. 

A few minutes before his shop burned, Schultz said another fire broke out at a trucking company just outside of town.  Firefighters were just clearing that scene when the call at his shop came in. 

"Is this related?  It has to be.  Colville doesn't have a structure fire for eight months, and then they have three in six weeks?  Come on!" Shultz said. 

Schultz said whoever did it broke in to his shop and stole $15,000 in tools before setting the large bay on fire.  Six customer cars were inside – and all but one was lost.  With the damage to the building, cars and tools, damages total more than half a million dollars.  Repairs are now underway, and are expected to take another two months to be finished. 

But he says, he's lucky the fire was put out so quickly.  If it hadn't been, he would have lost his livelihood of 26 years. 

"Ten more minutes and we would have lost the office and everything.  But we're lucky, we can keep going," he added. 

But the owners of Saundra's Furniture aren't so lucky.  As investigators look into a cause, the building will likely have to be knocked down because it's not structurally safe, and all the inventory inside is gone. 

"I have faith in our law enforcement officers," Shultz added.  "I believe they're going to catch whoever did this.  It's a small community, and people hear things.  Eventually they're going to get caught." 

He's just hoping whoever may be behind the string of fires is caught before there's the potential for a fourth.

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