Editor update – Thursday, 11:35pm:
Contrary to rumors that have been circulating, there is currently no evidence to tie the wildfires to either far-right or far-left activists. And while investigations are underway into the causes of a number of the fires, we have been able to confirm that suggestions that Antifa members have been arrested are unfounded.
“Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON,” the Douglas county sheriff’s office posted on Facebook on Thursday.
The Ashland, Oregon police chief also weighed in to the Oregonian:
“One thing I can say is that the rumor it was set by Antifa is 100% false information. We have some leads, and none of it points in that direction.”
A spokeswoman for the Oregon department of forestry spoke to the New York Times about those rumors about Antifa as well:
“We’re not seeing any indications of a mass politically influenced arson campaign.”
Here’s what we do know so far:
A number of wildfires in Washington, Oregon, and California are now being considered arson, and several arsonists are already in jail – while there are more on the run, we’re told.
On Wednesday, September 10, 2020, Troopers in Puyallup, Washington said they arrested a 36-year-old Puyallup man caught setting a fire in the brush. This was along State Route 167 in Puyallup in the median of SR 167 at Meridian.
The fire started to spread, but the Puyallup Police closed the northbound ramp on the highway. He told troopers he was looking for a camera. They still took the suspect to jail.
Another arson suspect was arrested in Spokane after allegedly starting multiple fires.
Christine Comello,36, was arrested after allegedly starting multiple fires in Spokane on Monday. Officer Mohondro arrived on the scene where he witnessed some grass and a palette outside of a commercial business on fire. There was reasonable evidence the fire was started by a human and not lightning or telephone poles.
Mohondro spotted another fire a few blocks away. This was next to an old oil drum under a tree. This could cause the fire to explode into something much larger. The Spokane Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire.
More units arrived in the area and detained Comello. She originally lied about her name, but it was discovered she had a warrant for her arrest.
Witnesses identified her as the arsonist. As a result she was booked for 2nd degree arson, 1st degree arson and burglary.
A federal law enforcement source shared with Law Enforcement Today that the feds are looking into whether some of the cases are linked together… and warn there could be more “attacks”.
“We are reacting to a coordinated series of attempts to start fires anywhere and everywhere in Oregon. Public and Private lands, incorporated and unincorporated areas.
By all indications so far in the preliminary stages of these investigations there is a coordinated effort on the part of these individuals to start fires in areas that are the least protected and most vulnerable then slowing working their way into more populated areas and neighborhoods.
Please take this information as an advisory for you own account and welfare and please act in good faith with due diligence to plan accordingly for your own safety and the well being of your community.”
In Eugene, Oregan, Elias Newton Pendergrass, 44, was arrested on Tuesday. He was suspected of arson in a wildfire that that burned almost 400 acres, and caused evacuations west of Eugene. Pendergrass, a Mapleton resident, is accused of first-degree arson.
He allegedly started the fire in Sweet Creek Milepost 2, which covers 382 acres near Mapleton. He’s being held in the Lane County Jail.
A middle aged man with tattoos was determined to set fire at the state park in Dexter, Oregon.
On Wednesday, September 9,2020 firefighters arrived to someone attempting to start fires at the Dexter State Recreation Area, an Oregon State Park. The park is along Highway 58. This is one of the few places people can travel in Oregon and not deal too heavily with fire.
Dexter Rural Fire, Chief Matt Peterson stated in a social media post:
“I don’t ever do this, but this is ridiculous!!!”
The man with the arm tattoos was seen starting two fires in the bushes towards the dam. Luckily, several people helped extinguish the fire before the firefighters could arrive. The suspect has a black German Shepherd, and he is driving a green Ford or Chevy SUV.
He asked the public to be on the lookout for a man with a black German Shepherd driving a green Ford or Chevy SUV. Anyone with information about the man is asked to contact law enforcement.
In Salinas, California, 37-year-old Anita Esquivel, is in the Monterey County Jail for arson. The California Highway patrol confirms Esquivel was arrested after allegedly starting fires intentionally along Highway 101 near Boronda Road.
This occurred after 9 a.m. but the number of fires were not released.
Law enforcement sources throughout Oregon and California did confirm for us that investigations are underway to see if a number of these fires are tied together.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated as new information becomes available.
Warning: More police confirm reports of groups in residential neighborhoods, taking photos of homes with police cars in driveways