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Harper Dock facilities scorched by arson

Fire crews were called out around 1 a.m. Thursday morning after residents living near the Harper Dock reported a flaming porta-potty at the site.

Fire investigator Ed Iskra immediately determined the fire had been deliberately set, although he wasn’t sure what the arsonists used to start the blaze. Almost anything can be used to start a fire, Iskra pointed out — even the toilet paper in the toilet.

However, because witnesses described hearing a whooshing noise moments before the toilet erupted in flames, Iskra said the arsonists may have used a fancier form of accelerant.

This is not the first case of flaming toilets of late — Iskra said similar units by Al’s of Olalla were set on fire twice in a 48-hour period back in April. He said there was another toilet fire in Silverdale even more recently than that.

“It’s one of those things kids do,” Iskra said. “It’s an ongoing battle.”

The fire also destroyed the electrical system for the dock and charred approximately 15 feet of decking, creating an unsafe situation. Harbormaster Steve Toms, who oversees the dock for the Port of Bremerton, said crews were dispatched Thursday afternoon to close the pier down until further notice. He couldn’t estimate how much the repairs would cost or how long they would take — he said it was largely dependent on the availability of materials.

“It shouldn’t be a problem,” Toms said. We should have it up and running in a a couple of weeks. It didn’t burn down — it’s just charred.”

Iskra urges anyone with information on the fire to call his office at 337-7183. He said although low-level arson like flaming toilets is a persistent problem, the authorities rarely catch perpetrators unless witnesses come forward. Even the license plate of a suspect vehicle is helpful, Iskra said.

“We have no suspects at all (right now),” he said.

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