FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. - Prosecutors dropped charges against the man suspected of starting a fire that ripped through historic downtown Friday Harbor, which were picked up by the Western Washington U.S. Attorney's office.
Dwight Henline is suspected of the arson that destroyed several buildings in Friday Harbor on April 7. Henline was arrested on April 16 and charged with arson.
However, prosecutors moved to dismiss the case without prejudice on Monday, with the goal of allowing charges to be filed against Henline at the federal level. They continued with charges of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, to which Henline has pleaded not guilty.
Monday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Nick Brown announced his office would seek federal prosecution.
Prosecutors asked the judge for a federal arrest warrant on the arson charge.
"Federal investigators worked carefully and methodically with their state and local counterparts, using video evidence and sales records to identify Mr. Henline as a suspect in this fire," said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. "The blaze is estimated to have caused millions of dollars in damage in a very small community. It took a community effort to stop the fire from spreading further. Holding the arsonist accountable is now our priority."
Arson is punishable by a mandatory minimum of five years, up to 20 years in prison.
Court documents show Henline was previously charged for driving under the influence in June 2021, when he crashed into a house while intoxicated.