Fire on Boat That Sank Off Washington Island Was Arson

January 14, 2013

The King County sheriff’s office says a fire aboard a rusted-out fishing vessel that burned and then sank in Penn Cove off Whidbey Island last May was intentionally set.

The Seattle Times reports that it cost state and federal government nearly $5.4 million to clean up the mess left by the 140-foot Deep Sea, which had been unlawfully moored off the island.

In addition, the Washington Department of Health shut down Penn Cove shellfish harvesting for more than two weeks after hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel spilled into an area known for its mussels.

Washington state Natural Resources Department spokeswoman Toni Droscher says sheriff’s investigators have no arson suspects.

The Times says the boat was left in the cove in December 2011 by its owner, a Maple Valley scrap dealer named Rory Westmoreland. Droscher says the state sent him a $1.3 million bill in an effort to recoup some cleanup expenses. Westmoreland earlier said he had no money to pay for the cleanup.

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