Friday Harbor arson suspect has criminal record, crashed car into home while DUI

New details are emerging about the criminal history of the man accused of intentionally burning down several businesses in Friday Harbor, just over a week ago. 

Over the weekend, authorities arrested Dwight Henline, who deputies say intentionally started a fire outside a building in the historic downtown Friday Harbor in San Juan Island. The fire damaged six buildings, three of which are a total loss, and caused millions of dollars worth of damages. 

Court documents also detail Henline's criminal past, though none of his previous crimes or charges have been as serious as arson. 

In January, Henline pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated. During that incident, which occurred in July 2021, court documents stated that he ran into a house while people were sleeping inside.  

The homeowner said that Henline flew off the road and traveled up a small slope on her lawn, taking out several raised garden beds before hitting the corner of her house.

"It was about midnight. We were asleep, we heard some loud thumping noises," said homeowner Libbie Grant.   

She said Henline rammed into their home while driving under the influence. 

"We finally looked out our front window and saw that a huge white Suburban had plowed across our property and hit our house," she said. "It's pretty scary."

She said Henline was unconscious when they came outside and found him and called 911. 

"He eventually snapped out of his stupor. He kept trying to start his engine which my husband had to stop him from doing," she said. 

Grant said it was clear he was extremely intoxicated.  

"He ran over the five raised garden beds and ripped the chassis off," Grant said. "He was trying to make some kind of a getaway and when he saw red and white lights showing up, flashing, he said…. ‘I got to get out of here.'  But, I mean, he wasn’t going anywhere at that time." 

Court documents show that when a deputy arrived, they spotted an open bottle of Bacardi rum on the passenger floorboard while they were talking to him. Documents also state that he admitted that he had "one drink." 

Henline eventually pleaded guilty to DUI earlier this year and was sentenced to jail and probation. 

He faces more serious charges in relation to the fire on April 7.  Bail has been set at $500,000.

Officials: Fire that tore through historic downtown Friday Harbor was intentionally set

Investigators say a large fire that ripped through historic downtown Friday Harbor last week was intentionally set.

"Through the course of the investigation, we interviewed a lot of people in this community and followed up with all the video footage we could possibly find and it was through the video footage and interviewing people we were able to determine who caused the fire and take them into custody," said Ron Krebs, Sheriff of San Juan County.   

Police have not released a motive for the fire. 

"I want to come to the point where I can forgive and move forward. Because we have a lot of good memories ahead of us that we can build back at Herbs Tavern," said Jazmin Mason, owner oF Herb's Tavern. 

Herb's was completely destroyed in the fire. Mason said she and her husband are planning to rebuild. However, she said she also plans to be in court to get answers. 

"The person that did this, being arrested, gives a little bit, a tiny bit, of closure. Then we can move forward.  But, 'why?' is the biggest question that we have," she said. 

In the past, court records show that Henline also had several contacts with law enforcement including being accused of criminal trespass, assault, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and malicious mischief. 

He was also accused of carrying a homemade explosive device, but the court ordered charges associated with that be dismissed. 

Grant said she'll also be following the fire case closely. 

"I wish I could say I was surprised, but based on the interactions I had had with this man, I was not," she said.  "It’s too bad he didn’t face stronger consequences for the crime he committed against my family."

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