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55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204
May 25, 2012
A vigilant homeowner was working in his garage when he heard kids running down the alley behind his home. When he went to check what was going on, he noticed that a fence about 20 yards away was on fire. He called for his wife to get a fire extinguisher and help put out the fire while he got into his pickup truck and followed the youths.
After following them to a local 7-11 convenience store, the homeowner called Police. Portland Police and a Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Investigator were quickly dispatched to the scene to interview the suspects. The homeowner, who will remain anonymous for his own protection, was able to identify all three youths in a Police line up.
As Portland Fire investigators compared notes, they started to examine a string of alley fires that have happened over the past four months. Investigators noted two items of interest; every time they interviewed the neighbors around the area of the fires they all said that there were not many kids in the neighborhood. Additionally, investigators could see a pattern since all fires occurred on Thursday nights.
After being interviewed, the youths confessed to lighting the fire in question and five other fires in the area which involved a portable restroom, fence, and recycle bins. Most of the fires occurred near the 3800 block of SE 64th Street.
When investigators asked the youths what they were doing in the neighborhood on Thursdays, they stated that they were attending youth group at a nearby church and would sneak out of youth group at break to light the fires.
An arrest in the case came on May 24, 2012. A 15-year-old male is charged with 2 counts of Arson II, 1 count of reckless burning, and 3 counts of criminal mischief. He will appear in juvenile court in the near future. No further arrests have been made at this time.
"After solving this frustrating string of arson crimes near SE 64th Street, we hope neighbors will all sleep easier at night," said PIO Paul Corah.
In another interesting twist, investigators learned that the individual, whose 9-1-1 call led to the apprehension of a suspect, was on probation for his own criminal past. Investigators believe that if this homeowner had not reported the fire and location of the suspects, the fires may have continued and caused more damage or possible injuries.