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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland Fire Investigators Use Sense of Smell To Catch Serial Arsonist

On February 16, 2011, Portland Fire & Rescue responded to four suspicious car fires in the area of NE 148th between NE Glisan and NE Sacramento Streets.  This is in addition to two other car fires that were reported over the past few days for a total of six car fires.  

Two Fire Investigators were patrolling the area of the fires as part of their investigation around midnight on February 17th.  While driving down NE 148th Avenue, the investigators smelled the odor of burning paper.  Upon further investigation, and to their surprise, they discovered a fire inside a carport at a residence located at 1230 NE 148th Avenue.  The fire had originated in a recycle bin and was rapidly spreading into the ceiling and walls of the carport, which was attached to a house.  

Springing into action, one of the investigators woke the sleeping family and assisted them with safely evacuating.  The other investigator pulled the recycle bin outside and called for firefighting resources.  Portland Police Bureau also responded with their canine units and set up a perimeter search of the area.  

Fire Investigators arrested a suspect, Bobby Lee Alsup III.  He was charged with one count of Arson I (a felony) and one count of Reckless Endangerment (a misdemeanor) in connection with this fire.       

"These fire investigators used one of their most basic senses to save this family from a potentially dangerous fire," said Public Information Officer Paul Corah.  "Our community is safer thanks to the Portland Fire Arson Squad's actions to apprehend this individual and stop his arson spree."  

Fire Investigators believe that this individual may be connected with all six car fires, plus an additional six suspicious fires in the area for a total of 13 fires.  Mr. Alsop's bail is currently set at $250,000 and he is being detained by the Multnomah County Department of Corrections.