On October 25, 2010, two Portland Fire Investigators were investigating a string of small fires, which they suspected had been deliberately set. Acting on a tip, the investigators' undercover work caught an arsonist in the act. During surveillance, investigators observed an individual setting a fire near the location of a second fire that was set in a dumpster at the Unitarian Church located at 1034 SW 13th Avenue in Portland.
While Portland Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire at the church, Arson Investigators took Rita Hoffman into custody. Damage to the church's property was estimated at $1,200. During the course of the investigation, Hoffman confessed to lighting a total of seven fires. On January 27, 2011, she pled guilty to one felony count of Arson II in a plea agreement.
"Thanks to fire investigators' diligent work, an arsonist has been brought to justice," said Public Information Officer Paul Corah. "Arson is a serious crime because the potential for loss of life to citizens and firefighters is so high."
Portland Fire's Arson Squad investigates an average of 300 suspected arson fires each year. Arson Investigators are cross-trained in law enforcement with the mission of saving lives and property by determining the cause of fires, identifying arson situations, and helping put dangerous criminals behind bars.
Investigators invite anyone who has information about a fire they believe was intentionally set to call the PF&R Arson Hotline at (503)823-3791.
55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204