Oregon wildfires: Locals carry out citizens’ arrest and tie suspected arsonist to a tree

·2-min read
Oregon wildfires: Locals carry out citizens’ arrest and tie suspected arsonist to a tree

A suspected arsonist was tied to a tree by locals after allegedly starting several wildfires in the Oregon wilderness.

Curry County Sheriff John Ward told the Associated Press on Tuesday that a man was caught by three residents and detained until police arrived.

On Monday, the US Bureau of Land Management reported an individual setting fires in forest, some 25 miles from Grants Pass in the western part of the state.

The Rogue River Ranch fires were extinguished by fire crews and local people. As the indicident unfolded, three residents spotted the alleged arsonist walking along the roadside.

“It was reported that the suspect became very combative with the three residents and had to be tied to a tree to subdue him,” Sheriff Ward told AP in a statement.

“An ambulance crew was asked to respond due to some injuries that the suspect apparently received from falling down.”

The suspect Trennon Smith, 30, of Veneta, Oregon, was jailed after being treated in hospital for his injuries. He is charged with arson and reckless burning, and bond was set at $100,000.

Less than 10 per cent of wildland fires are down to arson. The other 90 per cent are caused by lightning strikes and other human activity such as equipment failures, vehicle sparks or reckless behaviour.

The Pacific Northwest region is in the grips of a week-long heatwave. The temperature soared to 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 Celsius) in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, breaking the daily record for the city which was set in 2020. Western Oregon and the state Washington aren’t expected to see a drop in temperatures until the weekend.

Extreme, sustained temperatures and aridity create tinderbox conditions that raise the risk of wildfire outbreaks.

On Tuesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in 25 counties until Sunday to tap resources for combatting the heat, which can lead to power blackouts and disrupted public transport.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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