by MARIO LOTMORE
Updated: September 3, 2019
On August 29 at around 6 a.m., fire crews were called to Forest Lynn Condominiums located at 5822 200th St. SW with an initial report of smoke emanating from the attic. According to Leslie Hynes of South County Fire, one firefighter was taken to the hospital for minor injuries due to falling debris as firefighters worked to contain the blaze.
The fire was in the attic of the same unit fire crews responded to around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 28. Fire crews were able to contain Wednesday’s fire to the single unit.
A total of ten residents of six units are displaced. Patty Bush, a member of the Snohomish County Red Cross Disaster Action team, told us that the Red Cross will provide temporary lodging for residents. Support 7 of Snohomish County, a local non-profit made up of volunteers that provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support to victims, was also on scene.
A twenty-seven-year resident of Forest Lynn who is currently displaced by the fire, and who would like to remain anonymous, said, “What is important is that no lives were lost.” Visibly shaken, she is thankful she can stay with her family.
Current Forest Lynn HOA president, Connie Griffiths, is thankful no one was injured. She and other residents knocked on doors and guided their neighbors to safety. According to Griffiths, this is the first major fire at the complex. The complex is comprised of 84 units and is home to at least 150 residents.
The suspect for Wednesday’s fire is 37-year-old Kenneth Curtiss, a resident of the unit below the attic fire. Curtiss is currently in custody and was in custody at the time of the attic fire.
According to court records, Curtiss is facing possible charges of attempt to elude, fourth-degree domestic violence assault, and first-degree arson, a class A felony which is punishable up to life in prison and a $50,000 fine. Bail was set at $750,000.
At the September 3 hearing, the Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor, Tim Geraghty, indicated that the state intends to pursue all charges in the case. James Herr, Mr. Curtiss’ public defender, requested that his client be released with a 24-hr hold for an ITA behavioral assessment. For the safety of both Mr. Curtiss and the public, Judge Tam T. Bui, Snohomish County District Court, scheduled a hearing on September 4 for clarification surrounding the interruption of the initial ITA behavioral assessment at Swedish Edmonds Hospital.
Curtiss was taken into custody by Lynnwood Police on August 28 after being involuntarily committed by Forest Lake officers to Swedish Edmonds Hospital. Court documents show that earlier that day, Curtiss allegedly eluded Lynnwood Police after a brief vehicle pursuit on southbound I-5 which resulted in a patrol vehicle hitting a construction barrier on the shoulder of the road.
Because Curtiss was the primary suspect in an alleged assault against his mother on August 27, Lynnwood Police attempted to stop the vehicle owned by Curtiss. On August 27, Elaine Curtiss, the alleged assailant’s mother, called 911 to request a welfare check after her son allegedly assaulted her with a razor to shave her head.
In an interview with Curtiss’ mother, she disclosed her son’s 19-year battle with mental illness that stemmed from the death of her son’s father. She would like Washington state to do more for both parents of, and those suffering from, mental illness.
Elaine Curtiss described her son as a “beautiful mind.” She added, “He is very smart, does not do drugs, is kind and very religious. I want my son to live a stable life.”
She believes that the recent reduction in her son’s medication by Compass Health officials contributed to the events leading to the charges including arson.
As of 8 p.m. September 3, South County Fire has not determined what caused the attic fire and whether it is connected to or separate from the arson.