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Suspicious fire destoys SK residence

Police suspect arson is to blame for an early-morning fire that partially destroyed a single-family home on Wednesday.

According to fire records, neighbors of the one-story home on Crawford Road, located off Bethel Road just outside the Port Orchard city limits, called in the blaze just before 4:30 a.m. When Fire District 7 crews reached the site, about half the home was in flames.

After a half-hour battle, the fire was extinguished and the fire investigators began to sift through the wreckage. It took less than six hours for deputy fire marshal Ed Iskra to determine the fire, which caused almost $50,000 damage, had been deliberately set.

Investigators are now deciding whether or not it’s a coincidence the former residents of the house — a married couple — were forcibly evicted by the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department just five days earlier.

Sheriff’s department spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson said the female half of the couple had been served with eviction papers back on May 22. According to state law, Wilson said she then had three business days — until May 27 — to get herself and her belongings out of there.

However, when a deputy checked back on May 28, Wilson said she was still there. The woman allegedly claimed the landlord had given her an extension, but Wilson said the landlord denied that claim and expressed frustration over the couple’s refusal to leave.

“He not only said ‘no,’ he said ‘hell, no,’” Wilson said.

The landlord arranged to have a work party go over the the house on May 30 to forcibly remove the woman’s belongings. A deputy was there to oversee, Wilson said, but never actually participated in the eviction.

“We don’t actually lift furniture or gather up belongings,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the woman stood quietly by as her house was emptied and offered no resistance to the deputy or the workers. He said she even started moving some belongings off the curb to a neighbor’s house across the street.

The woman’s husband, Wilson said, never appeared and seemingly had no involvement during the entire eviction process. It also appeared the woman was largely unprepared for the move.

“She just hadn’t done anything, really,” Wilson said. “She’d made some effort to pack up and get herself out. (However), there was a large number of clothing — toys and things.”

As of Thursday, the investigation was still underway.

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