Mapleton man arrested on arson charge in wildfires that prompted evacuations

By Barney Lerten

Published September 2, 2020 12:32 am

Smoke rises Sunday from the Sweet Creek Milepost 2 Fire, three blazes that merged into one.

EUGENE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A 44-year-old Mapleton man was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a first-degree arson charge in a string of fires that merged and prompted evacuations near the western Lane County community. Lane County sheriff's deputies said they arrested Elias Newton Pendergrass shortly after 3 p.m. in connection with the Sweet Creek Fires. Pendergrass was lodged at the Lane County Jail. The sheriff's office said the investigation was a team effort between Lane County and Oregon State Police detectives, who contacted and interviewed several people as part of their investigation

into the fires.

The agency also offered thanks to community members who provided information and tips regarding the origin of the fires, which as of late Tuesdsay had burned nearly 400 acres.

The Sweet Creek Milepost 2 Fire was reported Sunday afternoon as three fires that merged into one, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.

The fire, burning in steep, wooded terrain, has burned 382 acres as of Tuesday night, and was 15% contained. With more heat and gusty winds predicted, Level 3 (Go Now), Level 2 (Get Set) and Level 1 (Get ready) evacuation alerts remained in place.

Oregon Dept. of Forestry

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