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July 24, 2006
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Wash. machete threat leads to standoff, fire and two deaths

The Associated Press

ROCHESTER, Wash.— Two men armed with machetes threatened a neighbor and then barricaded themselves in a house, setting up a standoff with police that ended with the home in flames, deputies said. One man surrendered and two bodies were found in the home.

The standoff began Sunday afternoon after a report that Thomas Mason and a cousin had threatened a neighbor with machetes, Thurston County Sheriffs Capt. Bradley Watkins said.

When deputies arrived, the two men barricaded themselves in Mason's two-story house, along with his wife, Watkins said.

A SWAT team surrounded the house. Sunday evening, after deputies fired pepper spray into the house, fire broke out and Mason stumbled outside. The bodies were found hours later, after the fire was extinguished.

Mason, 39, is suspected of setting the fire, Deputy Daniel D. Kimball said. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and was to be held for investigation of arson and an earlier warrant for unlawful imprisonment, Kimball said.

Kimball identified the two found dead in the home only as Mason's wife and cousin, who also was wanted on an outstanding warrant. Autopsies to determine the cause of death were pending.

Kimball did not give details on the warrants against Mason or his cousin.

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