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Originally published Friday, November 6, 2009 at 12:09 AM

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2 more arsons in Greenwood hit CPA, guitar businesses

Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood was hit by two more arsons early Thursday morning and the Fire Department says the same person is believed to have set both fires.

Seattle Times staff reporters

The Seattle Fire Department has set up arson patrols and is distributing arson-prevention information in the Greenwood community in response to two deliberately set fires Thursday and another arson two weeks ago that destroyed four Greenwood restaurants and caused $2 million in damage.

Fire investigators say the two fires Thursday appear to have been started by the same person. The first, reported at 3:43 a.m., was set on the back porch of an accounting business, CPA Seattle, at 300 N.W. 85th St.

Neighbors used fire extinguishers to help contain the blaze until firefighters arrived. There were no injuries. A Fire Department spokeswoman said it was confined to the porch. Damage is estimated at $5,000.

At 4:11 a.m., firefighters responded to a fire between two buildings at North 84th Street and Greenwood Avenue North. That blaze damaged the exteriors of the two buildings, one occupied by Rosewood Guitar, a classical-guitar specialty store, and the other by Rosewood Guitar's teaching studio. There were no injuries, and damage is estimated at $20,000.

Fire Department spokeswoman Dana Vander Houwen said combustible materials were found near both sites, presumably left by the arsonist.

Grant Lehmann said he and his wife, Janice, were awakened by crackling sounds outside their bedroom window. After spotting flames shooting from the porch of the business about 50 feet behind his house, he dialed 911, then the couple grabbed three fire extinguishers.

"It was very scary. We were just trying to do what we could," said Janice Lehmann. "It's creepy to think of an arsonist creeping around an alley at night."

The Greenwood neighborhood has been plagued with fires in recent weeks, including the Oct. 23 arson that was set in the Green Bean Coffee House, and spread to three other restaurants, Szechuan Bistro, C.C. Teriyaki and Pho Tic Tac. The Taproot Theatre and a business complex with second-floor apartments nearby also were damaged, mainly by water and smoke.

Vander Houven said investigators are working to determine whether that blaze has any connection to the Thursday morning fires.

The cases have been turned over to the Seattle police arson and bomb squad.

"Firefighters will be out patrolling the area, looking for any suspicious activity overnight," Vander Houven said.

The Fire Department has issued an appeal for anyone with information that may be related to the arsons to call the Arson Alarm Hotline at 800-55-ARSON (552-7766). David Liatos, owner of CPA Seattle, credited the Lehmanns' quick actions. "It was really scary, and I'm deeply in their debt," said Liatos, who has volunteered to do their taxes for free for life.

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