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MailTribune.com
  • Our Opinion: Keep your eyes open

    Investigators need all the help they can get to catch Medford's serial arsonist
  • Early Thursday, firefighters responded to what appears to be Medford's 19th in a series of arsons. Investigators believe a serial arsonist is responsible for the blazes, but have been stymied so far in attempts to identify the firebug. City residents should help as much as possible.
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  • Early Thursday, firefighters responded to what appears to be Medford's 19th in a series of arsons. Investigators believe a serial arsonist is responsible for the blazes, but have been stymied so far in attempts to identify the firebug. City residents should help as much as possible.
    Most of the fires have resulted in little damage, but the one investigators believe may have been the first in the series destroyed a historic fruit packing plant — that housed Miscellany Antiques at 220 N. Fir St. Other fires had the potential to become destructive if they had not bee reported promptly and extinguished quickly.
    Thursday morning's fire started in a fruit crate storage yard near South Fir and Monroe streets. Responding firefighters initially thought it was a structure fire because they could see towering flames as they approached, but damage was limited to wooden fruit crates.
    This arsonist appears to work mostly a night, although a Monday afternoon fire that burned the wall of an apartment is also believed to be part of the spree, indicating the person responsible may be getting bolder.
    Police have stepped up patrols in response to the fires, which have been clustered in west Medford neighborhoods, but they need help from residents, too. Cruising patrol cars are fairly visible, and an arsonist on foot or on a bicycle can manage to avoid them.
    Neighbors watching out for neighbors can be more effective, and residents should pay attention to who comes and goes in their neighborhoods. Social media can help, too, as local police departments have learned.
    Medford Police maintains a Facebook page by that name. An update posted Thursday morning explains why arsonists are tough to catch. Unlike other crimes, there is no link between the victim and the perpetrator. Arsonists often act alone and don't discuss their crimes or boast about them to others, who won't understand the pleasure they get from setting fires.
    In addition, the post says, "Forensic evidence is seldom left at scenes because it takes very little effort to start a fire, especially in these conditions."
    Anyone who spots something that may help should contact Medford detective Tony Young at 541-774-2230. You can see a map showing the locations of the suspected arsons at www.mailtribune.com/arsonfires.
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