An Oregon man was charged with using a Molotov cocktail to start a brush blaze in the wildfire-devastated state — then busted again just hours later for allegedly going back and starting six more, cops said.
Domingo Lopez Jr., 45, was first arrested Sunday afternoon after witnesses told cops he started a fire on the grassy edge of a Portland freeway with an incendiary device made out of a plastic bottle with a wick, the Portland Police Bureau said.
He admitted starting the blaze, which was extinguished without any injuries or property damage, cops said.
Lopez Jr. was booked into jail at 6:45 p.m. Sunday on charges of reckless burning and second-degree disorderly conduct — then released on his own recognizance later that night, court records show.
He was found walking along the edge of the same highway just after 3:30 a.m. Monday as cops joined fire crews to investigate reports of six more fires, Portland police said.
This time, he appeared to start the fires with a lighter, which was seized as evidence, the force said.
Four people have been arrested for arson for deliberately starting blazes along the West Coast including one man who livestreamed the encounter on social media as the death toll from the devastating wildfires climbed to 29 and Oregon officials warned they are preparing for a ‘mass fatality event’.
Two men in Washington state, one man in Oregon and one woman in California are facing arson charges for setting fires in areas that were already grappling with deadly blazes.
At least 20 have now been killed in California, eight in Oregon and one in Washington state as thousands of firefighters struggle to bring the blazes under control and the governors of California and Oregon told residents to expect more fatalities in the coming days.
Facebook has announced that it will be wiping messages alleging that wildfires, which have been sweeping through Oregon, might be the work of certain groups after the FBI brushed off reports of arson as “conspiracy theories.”
“We are removing false claims that the wildfires in Oregon were started by certain groups,” Andy Stone, policy communications manager at Facebook, tweeted late on Saturday.
Defending what is effectively an act of censorship by the social media giant, Stone noted that speculation suggesting the blazes have been ignited by extremists are forcing law enforcement to “divert resources from fighting the fires and protecting the public.”
This is consistent with our past efforts to remove content that could lead to imminent harm given the possible risk to human life as the fires rage on
The move comes as multiple wildfires are tearing through Oregon, closing in on Portland, the center of the Black Lives Matter protests, which have been marred by vandalism and arson.
Amid criminal investigations into the origin of many of the fires that have devastated communities in Washington, Oregon and California, a 36-year-old man with a history of radical activism has been arrested.
Jeffrey Acord was arrested Wednesday for setting a brush fire near a freeway in Puyallup, Washington, south of Seattle.
In 2014, he was arrested during protests of the Michael Brown decision with a cache of weapons, ammunition and explosive materials in his backpack and vehicle.
KOMO-TV in Seattle reported at the time that investigators said Acord was seen reaching under a car with a road flare. Among the weapons in his possession were a 7-inch knife, an assault rifle, a shotgun and a box full of large fireworks.
On Wednesday, it was Acord who called 911 to report a fire on the side of State Route 167. He then began streaming on his Facebook page, noted the blog Protester Privilege. A police officer can be heard questioning Acord, and the video ends with his arrest for second-degree reckless burning.