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Oregon Man Arrested Twice in 12 Hours for Starting Fires Near Portland Freeway

A member of a search and rescue team look for victims through gutted homes in the aftermath of fires in Talent, Ore., September 13, 2020. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

An Oregon man was arrested early Monday morning for the second time in 12 hours after he set “multiple” fires along a Portland freeway.

Shortly after 4p.m. on Sunday, Portland Police were called to assist firefighters in extinguishing a small brush fire along Interstate 205, which caused no injuries or structural damages.

A witness flagged down police officers about an hour later and pointed out the suspect, who was in a tent nearby.

“Officers arrested the suspect, who confirmed he lit the fire with the device,” the Portland Police Bureau said.

Domingo Lopez Jr., 45, was arrested for using a Molotov Cocktail to start the brush fire and booked in the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of reckless burning and second degree disorderly conduct.

Lopez was later released and went on to start six more small fires in the early hours of Monday morning.

Portland police responded shortly after 3:30a.m. to reports of multiple fires burning along the west side of the same freeway.

“Portland Fire and Rescue extinguished three of them while passing community members put out the other three,” police said. “All were caught early.”

Officers found Lopez walking along the shoulder and arrested him again. He was taken to a hospital on a Police Officer Hold for a mental health evaluation. Police confiscated a plastic bottle with a wick and a lighter as evidence.

Lopez now faces seven counts of reckless burning and one count of second-degree disorderly conduct.

Police said arson investigators were following up to see if any other charges are warranted.

Lopez is the fifth individual to be arrested on suspicion of arson as fires burn through West Coast states. Two men in Washington state, a man in Oregon and a woman in California have also been arrested.

At least 35 people have died as of Monday from fires in California, Oregon, and Washington. In Oregon, a million acres have burned, and more than 40,000 people have fled their homes.

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