Wendy Weiner and her husband, Lian Ng, watched their newly remodeled home go up in flames yesterday after, police say, a next-door neighbor...
Wendy Weiner and her husband, Lian Ng, watched their newly remodeled home go up in flames yesterday after, police say, a next-door neighbor set fire to his own home and the blaze quickly spread.
The 44-year-old man called police from a pay phone as firefighters tried to contain the blaze. He was arrested a few minutes later and booked into King County Jail on suspicion of arson.
The fire engulfed the man’s Bellevue home. The blaze, apparently fed by a broken natural-gas line, moved on to the neighbors’ garage and traveled through their roof.
Ng woke up and got his family outside safely.
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“I’m glad I’m a light sleeper,” Ng said.
The couple and their two daughters had moved into their Newport Hills home about a year ago. With extensive fire, smoke and water damage, Weiner described the home as a total loss.
Police would not discuss motives, but they said the man was home alone and did not intend to hurt anyone.
About 40 firefighters were at the scene in the 5000 block of 127th Place Southeast and began arriving at about 4:30 a.m., eight minutes after receiving the first call, Bellevue fire Lt. Bruce Kroon said.
During the fire, a natural-gas meter near the man’s home broke off, and the leak probably contributed to the spread of the blaze, Kroon said. Utility officials eventually turned off the gas.
The fire caused an estimated $1 million damage, $400,000 to the suspect’s home and $600,000 to the neighbors’ home, Bellevue Fire Department officials said.
Several fires were set inside the man’s home, which caused the flames to spread faster, Kroon said.
According to property records, the man bought the $445,000 home in January. Police spokesman Michael Chiu said the man was a part-owner of the home, and neighbors said he lived with his brother, at least for a time.
Bellevue police say they are investigating a possible argument at the home earlier this week.
Ng and his family planned on staying in a hotel last night. Although family photo albums stored in the garage were destroyed, it appeared that many belongings were still intact. The couple’s daughters were able to grab two tin boxes full of keepsakes, such as jewelry and family mementos.
Ashley Bach: 206-464-2567 or firstname.lastname@example.org