Crews battle blazes as arsonist strikes in Centralia overnight

CENTRALIA, Wash. - Firefighters hustled to keep up as a rash of four fires broke out around Centralia overnight. At least two of them were arsons, officials said Friday.

The first blaze was at an espresso stand on Kresky Avenue south of Centralia, said Jim Walkowski, chief of the Riverside Fire Authority in Centralia. The fire started at the rear of the building and caused an estimated $5,000 to $7,000 in damage. The cause is under investigation.

About an hour later, someone deliberately set fire to a church outbuilding on First Street in Centralia, causing an estimated $40,000 to $50,000 in damage.

"Someone intended to cause harm to that structure," Walkowski said.

While crews were battling that blaze, an arsonist struck at the Centerville Western Stores on Lum Road. A fire was set at the exterior of the building, and the flames spread to the interior.

That fire caused an estimated $10,000 to $15,000 in damage, Walkowski said.

Not long afterward, there was an accidental fire at the Cavalry Chapel Church caused by an electrical fault in a wall.

Walkowski said it is "highly possible" that the arsons at the church outbuilding and Lum Road store are connected.

"It's definitely under investigation," he said.

Officials said fire crews from neighboring areas had to be called in to deal with the rash of fires.

Walkowski asks anyone with surveillance video from areas near the arson fires to contact police.