JUNCTION CITY, Ore. - A man ignited an illegal mortar-style firework Wednesday evening a foot from a "carpentry shop which was surrounded by a thick amount of sawdust and other pieces of wood that could easily burn," Junction City Police say.
"The shop was also in close proximity to another residence," according to police.
"With multiple level 2 and level 3 evacuations due to vegetation fires across the state of Oregon from extreme heat and wind we were very fortunate that the discharge of the firework did not ignite an additional fire," Police Chief Bob Morris said in a statement. "The discharge of the firework had the potential of setting a fire that could have cost millions of dollars in damage as well as loss of life."
Police responded just after 7 p.m. to the area of Noraton Road and Lingo Lane, north of Junction City, after citizesn reported illegal fireworks had been discharged.
"The investigation revealed that the subject responsible for igniting the firework had left the area on a motorcycle prior to officers arriving. Officers were able to immediately locate the suspect at a store in Junction City," police said.
Police arrested Milton Loice Moran Jr., 48, on suspicion of Recklessly Endangering Another Person and Driving While Suspended.
"Moran admitted to igniting the firework and acknowledged that he knew how dangerous it was due to the dry weather conditions," according to police.
Police seized additional mortars from Moran’s residence, police said.
"The police department wants to extend a sincere thanks to the alert citizens that heard the firework and immediately reported it to police, which allowed the suspect to be located before additional fireworks were discharged," Morris said.
Police arrested Milton Loice Moran Jr., 48, on suspicion of Recklessly Endangering Another Person and Driving While Suspended. "Moran admitted to igniting the firework and acknowledged that he knew how dangerous it was due to the dry weather conditions," according to police. (Junction City Police)