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A firefighter with WCFD7 prepares to knock down a fire inside a garage at a residence (June 4, 2020). Photo: My Ferndale News

House fire considered suspicious – Ferndale man jailed

FERNDALE, Wash. — A Ferndale man was booked into Whatcom County Jail over the weekend charged with suspicion of arson in the 1st degree.

Last Thursday, June 4th, Whatcom County Fire District 7 (WCFD7) firefighters responded to a report of a residential fire in the 5500 block of Fisher Place at about 9:30am. Upon arriving, they found the house unoccupied with a fire burning in a back room according to WCFD7 Division Chief Justin Iverson. Upon knocking down the fire, firefighters began clearing other rooms and discovered another fire burning in the garage at the front of the house.

According to information provided by the Ferndale Police Department, Whatcom County Fire Marshal’s Office officials said it appeared there were at least 3 separate locations within the residence where it appeared fires had started. There was significant heat and smoke damage to the house, Iverson said.

Witnesses reported seeing a resident of the house leaving just before a neighbor noticed smoke coming from the residence and called 911.

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Minutes before the dispatch to the residential fire, law enforcement and aid crews were dispatched to a head-on crash on Slater Road, about 4 miles from the house fire. According to information from Ferndale Police, this involved the resident, identified as Billy E Masten, age 57. He was transported from the crash to PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center. His condition was considered stable but serious according to Bellingham Fire Department Captain Dave Pethick.

Ferndale Police said Masten lived in the house with his wife and daughter. Whatcom County Assessor records indicate Masten owns the house with his wife. The wife and daughter had temporarily moved out of the house a few days prior to the fires according to Ferndale Police. His wife had petitioned for a protection order in Whatcom County Superior Court on Thursday, June 4th listing Masten as the respondent.

Masten was contacted by law enforcement upon being released from the hospital on Saturday, June 6th, taken into custody and booked into Whatcom County Jail on the arson charge and also for violating a domestic violence related court order.

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Washington State Patrol Trooper Heather Axtman said no criminal charges had resulted from the injury crash on Slater Road.

According to jail records, Masten remained in custody as of 10am on Monday, June 8th, pending a $100,000 bond.

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