The owner of Smead’s Pub in Washougal says that an “inexperienced arsonist” threw two incendiary devices onto her establishment’s roof in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 31, causing damage to the building but no injuries.
“We got a lot of footage from the back (camera),” Kimber Eckman told The Post-Record. “It’s so disturbing to watch him just sit there and light these things and throw them (up there). It’s just absolutely awful.”
The Washougal Police Department (WPD) is investigating the incident.
“I can confirm there is a report that has been assigned to our detective sergeant,” WPD Chief Wendi Steinbronn said. “I don’t want to provide any details at this time or ask for the public’s help. No one was hurt.”
Eckman said a man lit two bottles on fire, threw them onto the roof along with a can of gasoline, and ran away at 2:51 a.m. Eckman said the act was recorded on her pub’s security system.
“The only saving grace that I think we had is the fact that when he threw the gas can up there, it didn’t connect with the fire that was already going,” she said. “Had he connected both of those ‘Molotov cocktails’ with that container of gasoline that he threw up there, there would have been more damage.”
The fire burned for about 20 minutes before a Smead’s Pub employee arrived on the scene, according to Eckman.
“My breakfast cook, who usually comes in at 4:30 a.m. to do prep work, came in an hour early because she was having difficulty sleeping,” Eckman said. “When she got there, she panicked. But the roofs are low, so she took a hose or whatever, got up there, knocked (the bottles) down and put out (the fire).”
Eckman said that watching the security footage “makes her skin crawl.”
“I have to be honest, it brought tears to my eyes to think that somebody could do that to me,” she said. “Before I got angry, I was just so sad. It was like, ‘Oh my God, why would somebody do something so horrific?’ And then I was just immediately thankful that no employees or customers were in there. And then I got angrier the more I watched it. I do hope he’s caught because the longer I think he’s (out there), I think he’ll do it again.”
Eckman said she doesn’t have any idea why somebody would want to burn down her pub.
“I even questioned all of my employees to see (if they had seen) any type of altercation with an angered patron, but we haven’t had any issues,” she said. “We just don’t have fights and stuff like that out there. I haven’t had any discrepancy with anyone where I felt like, ‘Oh, I better watch my back.'”
Eckman described the person in the security footage as a 20-something white male wearing a black-hooded windbreaker, baggy blue jeans and white tennis shoes.
“(It doesn’t appear that) this person was very well trained,” she said. “These little ‘molotov cocktails,’ they’re made to be thrown through windows, so I don’t understand why he threw them on the roof. My personal opinion, I don’t think that he was very well skilled. I think he had a plan and a mission. He knew what he was doing. He brought everything with him, so he knew he was doing it. … He wasn’t an experienced arsonist because of how poorly executed it was.”
Eckman is working with her insurance companies to fix the damaged roof.
“It’s a flat-top, and it burnt down in,” she said. “But (the fire was put out) before it literally burned through. (Contractors are) going to reseal the whole roof after they fix the ‘hole,’ if you will. The roof was damaged a fair amount, but we just got very lucky.”