A local 30-year-old is suspected of making two attempts to burn down a home under construction near Birch Bay.
Landon Larson, 30, was booked into Whatcom County Jail for two counts of second-degree arson, after he allegedly tried to burn down the same unoccupied house twice. On the first attempt, he used Molotov cocktails – glass bottles filled with gasoline – and on the second attempt a few days later, he sprayed gasoline onto the same building and tried to light it on fire.
“I’m not sure why I did it,” Larson allegedly told Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies who investigated the incident.
On August 12, the owner of Carlson Homes LLC, Tyler Carlson, reported an attempted arson at 5309 Ocean Cove Lane near Birch Bay. Carlson’s company is currently constructing 15 new homes in the development. Over the weekend, someone had thrown two glass bottles that contained an accelerant against the structure. One bottle was thrown against a covered concrete patio of the newly constructed home, and one bottle was thrown against the structure’s south plywood exposed wall, leaving minor burn marks.
A WCSO deputy investigated, but no suspects could be identified. There were no footprints in the soil due to heavy rainfall over the weekend, and the only pieces of evidence recovered were the remnants of a broken glass vodka bottle and a piece of cloth in the mouth of the vodka bottle. The second bottle had shattered completely and had no evidentiary value.
A few days later, on August 15, there was another attempted arson at the same address. The new damage was to the covered porch area, where the back wall was burnt and there were fresh scorch marks. Pipe insulation had melted from overhead and fallen to the patio floor. A fire marshal attended the scene and confirmed that this was new damage and was not caused in the earlier incident.
This time, one of Carlson’s security cameras had captured the image of a thin male on the property at 1:52 a.m. The male was wearing a backpack, but the pictures were not clear enough to establish identification. The next day, Carlson forwarded another image from his camera of a male carrying a backpack. It appeared to be the same person as the earlier image, with the same build and hairstyle.
A subcontractor who works with Carlson identified the subject, who was soon contacted by WCSO deputies. “I contacted Larson at his home and he stepped out onto his porch while talking to me,” read a WCSO deputy’s report. “At first he denied any involvement. When I mentioned the surveillance photos, he admitted to trying to light the house on fire.” Larson allegedly said he didn’t know how to control his impulses.
After being taken into custody and read his Miranda rights, Larson agreed to continue talking to the WCSO deputy. “He admitted to drinking vodka on the 12th, then filling the bottles with gasoline,” read the deputy’s report. “He lit the bottles, then threw them into the house. Larson admitted to returning on the 15th and trying again, this time spraying accelerant onto the covered porch area and lighting it.”
Larson also said he targeted the house because he knew no one lived there yet. “[Larson] stated it was the only house he attempted to catch on fire,” read another deputy’s report. “[Larson] said there was no specific reason for it being that house. [He] did not know what made him attempt to burn a house down or why he went back a second time.”
As of August 26, Larson remained in custody at Whatcom County Jail.