Authorities in Oregon arrested a 45-year-old man twice within 12 hours after he allegedly started multiple fires near a Portland freeway. Officers responded to the first blaze just after 4:30 p.m. on Sunday (September 13). The fire department managed to put out the flames before they could spread. About an hour later, a witness told police the suspect was in a nearby tent.
Officers confronted the man, identified as Domingo Lopez Jr., and took him into custody. He admitted to starting the fire, and the deputies found a burned plastic bottle with a wick attached to the top. He was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of reckless burning and disorderly conduct in the second degree but was released later in the day.
A few hours after Lopez was released, he began starting more fires. Officers were called back to the area around 3:30 a.m. Monday morning and found that six more fires had been lit. The fire department put out three of the brush fires, while members of the community extinguished the other three before they could spread.
Officers found Lopez wandering along the freeway and took him into custody. He was taken to a mental hospital for a psychological evaluation. He is now facing seven counts of reckless burning, and officials said they could file more charges against him.
As of Monday afternoon, 37 wildfires are burning across Oregon. The fires have burned more than 861,000 acres across the state and forced about 500,000 people to evacuate from their homes.
Photo: Portland Police Bureau