Police Arrest Man Who Started Wildfire With Molotov Cocktail Again
An Oregon man who was arrested over the weekend for allegedly starting a brush fire with a Molotov cocktail was arrested again just hours later and is accused of starting six more fires.
Domingo Lopez Jr, 45, was taken into custody on Sunday evening, September 13, after a witness told police they had seen him start a fire on the grassy verge of a Portland freeway.
Law enforcement officials were dispatched to the area along the I-205 freeway just after 4:30pm to assist Portland Fire and Rescue with a blaze that was later extinguished without causing any injuries or structural damage.
An hour later, officers from the Portland Police Bureau approached Lopez Jr after being flagged down by the witness, who pointed out the suspect in a nearby tent. According to a police statement, he admitted lighting the fire with the Molotov cocktail and they arrested him.
Police said they seized the device – a plastic bottle with a wick – as evidence, before booking the 45-year-old into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Reckless Burning and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree.
Lopez Jr was then released before being arrested again in the early hours of Monday morning for allegedly starting six more small fires along the edge of the same highway.
East Precinct officers were dispatched to the scene along with Portland Fire and Rescue, with crew members extinguishing three of the fires just before 4am. Passersby managed to put out the other three fires.
Shortly afterwards, officers found Lopez Jr walking along the shoulder of the freeway and arrested him. This time, police said he appeared to start the fires with a lighter, which was seized as evidence.
The suspect was taken to a nearby hospital for a mental health evaluation, where he was issued citations for six additional counts of reckless burning. Arson investigators are currently in the process of doing a follow-up to see if other charges are warranted.
Luckily, all of the fires were ‘caught early’ and ‘no one was injured and no structures were burnt,’ police said, although the same cannot be said for the multiple other wildfires burning across the state and the US West Coast.
So far, the fires – which are still burning in California, Oregon, and Washington – have destroyed more than 4.6 million acres of land, killing at least 35 people with many more still missing.
Tens of thousands of firefighters have been deployed to tackle the blazes in recent weeks, with strong winds and high temperatures only expected to worsen the blazes in the coming days.
Our thoughts are with everyone affected by these fires.
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CreditsPortland Police Bureau
Portland Police Bureau