by WorldTribune Staff, September 11, 2020
Federal authorities are investigating whether arsonists are working in coordination to set wildfires in Oregon, a report said.
“We are reacting to a coordinated series of attempts to start fires anywhere and everywhere in Oregon. Public and Private lands, incorporated and unincorporated areas,” Law Enforcement Today cited a federal law enforcement source as saying.
“By all indications so far in the preliminary stages of these investigations there is a coordinated effort on the part of these individuals to start fires in areas that are the least protected and most vulnerable then slowly working their way into more populated areas and neighborhoods,” the source said.
“Please take this information as an advisory for you own account and welfare and please act in good faith with due diligence to plan accordingly for your own safety and the well being of your community,” the source added.
In Eugene, Elias Newton Pendergrass, 44, was arrested on Tuesday. He was suspected of arson in a wildfire that burned almost 400 acres, and caused evacuations west of Eugene.
Pendergrass, a Mapleton resident, allegedly started the fire in Sweet Creek Milepost 2, which covers 382 acres near Mapleton. He’s being held in the Lane County Jail.
KSNV News 3 reported that on Sept. 9 firefighters arrived to someone attempting to start fires at the Dexter State Recreation Area, an Oregon State Park. The park is along Highway 58, one of the few places people can travel in Oregon and not deal too heavily with wildfires.
Dexter Rural Fire Chief Matt Peterson said a man with arm tattoos was seen starting two fires in the bushes towards the Dexter dam. Several people helped extinguish the fire before firefighters arrived. The suspect has a black German Shepherd, and was driving a green Ford or Chevy SUV, the chief said.
Several of the wildfires devastating California and Washington are also being investigated as arson, reports say.