Saturday, October 22, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Arson damages bike shop, apartment; one arrested

Seattle Times staff reporter

A 51-year-old Seattle man was arrested yesterday in connection with three separate fires set early yesterday morning in the Sand Point area just east of University Village.

One fire caused an estimated $75,000 damage to a bicycle shop and an unoccupied apartment above it. Two cats died in the fire, according to Seattle police and the shop's owner. Seattle police said they don't know a motive for the arsons.

It was unclear what led police to the suspect.

The most damaging fire was at the Bicycle Center, 4529 Sand Point Way N.E. Yesterday afternoon, owner John Marxer was going through the smoke-damaged business with two of his employees.

In the back, a $4,000 carbon alloy bike had been melted into a lump. Remains of melted bike pedals were on a shelf. Hanging from the ceiling were wires — the rims of all that was left from rubber tires that had melted away.

Above the bike shop was an unoccupied two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment where the two cats were found. Marxer said the fire had been set on the steps leading to the apartment.

He said he heard about the fire on the radio when he was driving to work yesterday.

Marxer said he's thankful the apartment was empty, pointing to the burned-down stairs. "That was the only way down."

Nate Gibson, an employee at the store, estimated that $15,000 in goods had been damaged.

The bike-shop fire was set about 5 a.m., according to the Seattle Fire Department. About half an hour later, the contents of a metal recycle bin behind Great Harvest Bread, 5408 Sand Point Way N. E., was set on fire, causing an estimated $1,000 in damage.

After that, a few blocks away at 5250 40th Ave. N. E., someone tried but failed to set fire to a pile of newspapers outside the Metropolitan Market. A fire was then set in a bale of hay used for Halloween decorations, said Mark Marsh, store director.

He said employees put out the fire with extinguishers, and he estimated the damage at $8 for the hay.

Meanwhile, Marxer, 64, yesterday was pondering his retirement years, or what might not be his retirement years.

He started the bike shop in 1969 and had been in that location for more than three decades.

"I was gonna build up my retirement fund. Now, I don't know," he said. "Right now, I don't even have power."

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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