Community rallies behind Arlington woman whose historic building destroyed in arson fire

ARLINGTON – The community is rallying behind the owner of a historic building in downtown Arlington that was destroyed in an explosive fire Oct. 23.

Dawn Ambler, owner of the 2 Bit And More flea market and thrift shop, said she is doing OK more than a week after an arsonist destroyed the business that she has owned for more than 25 years.

“It has been a challenge – a roller coaster of emotions,” Ambler said. “But I’ve got my emotional armor back on.”

Adding strength to that armor is the love and support from family and friends, and fundraisers that she hopes will help her and her vendors get back on their feet.

A benefit fundraiser is set for Saturday, Nov, 12, at Krosswalk Pub, 322 N. Olympic Ave. in Arlington. A silent auction will run from 3-8 p.m. A taco feed starts at 4 p.m. A benefit page with more information has been set up at www.facebook.com/2BitsBenefitPage.

Also, a GoFundMe page has already raised more than $1,870. To contribute, visit www.gofundme.com/mvc.php?route=search&term=dawn%20ambler.

Everyone is welcome to attend to the fundraiser, and Ambler hopes for a good turnout, especially to help her vendors who lost so much inventory in the blaze.

“I really want to help the vendors,” she said. “It’s the only thing I can do as far as I’m concerned.”

Ambler is grateful to everyone for the outpouring support. “It’s hard to let other people help you. I’m very appreciative to the community.”

Ambler said the images of her livelihood going up in flames is still vivid in her mind. The night of the fire, she was working a side job bartending at 6 p.m. at the Krosswalk Pub just a few doors down on the other side of Olympic.

She had stopped by her store for a couple of minutes, but didn’t notice any smell of smoke at that time. An hour later, she got word from a resident living upstairs in a next door second-floor apartment that a fire broke out.

Ambler left the Krosswalk Pub immediately. “I was in a state of shock, and I stayed out on the street until 2 a.m. praying that the firefighters don’t get hurt. Tuesday, when I came back in, it was pretty overwhelming.”

Her building, the storefront now completely boarded up, sustained $465,000 in fire and smoke damage.

Many older patrons who dropped into her store remember when the building at one time served as a silent movies theater and later a “Superette” grocery store.

“People that worked and shopped there over the years felt a part of it,” Ambler said. “I’m really going to miss that.”

Ambler isn’t sure if she will build from scratch. Her insurance company said there is no hurry for her to make up her mind. Their people are busy assessing the safety of the building, moving out debris, and recovering items that can be salvaged belonging to her vendors.

“I may rebuild, but I don’t know if I have it in me to rebuild,” Ambler said.

The woman arrested in connection with the fire is being held on $500,000 bail and faces a charge of first-degree arson.

Teresa Martinez, 53, who also goes by the name Teresa Casados, appeared before a judge in Snohomish County Superior Court via closed-circuit television.

Court documents stated the fire at 2 Bits And More at 229 N. Olympic Ave. started after an argument between Martinez and her estranged husband.

He reportedly was renting space at the rear of the building.

The two were at the American Legion earlier in the evening when they started arguing, court documents stated. A few minutes after they left, she called her estranged husband and threatened to burn down his home.

Arlington detectives obtained evidence that confirmed the woman returned to the residence in a distinct vehicle just after 7 p.m. and left about five minutes later. The fire was discovered moments later, and the residence was ungulfed in flames.

Records show that Martinez has had several brushes with the law, including domestic violence and assault.

She has also failed to appear in court at least 32 times, according to court records She faces a charge of first-degree arson and domestic violence.

No one was injured in the fire, but as many as 15 residents of adjacent apartments were displaced, with half of them provided temporary housing.

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