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MailTribune.com
  • Medford police have arrested a second arsonist

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  • Another arson suspect is behind bars after an alleged failed attempt to set a fire in downtown Medford, his efforts apparently thwarted by witnesses who extinguished the blaze and chased the man away.
    Gregory William Stabile, 29, remains in the Jackson County Jail on charges of first- and second-degree arson, criminal mischief, and a parole violation stemming from a past fourth-degree assault conviction. He is being held without bail, according to jail records.
    Medford police say a witness first spotted Stabile as he set a fire at 5 p.m. Thursday. Stabile allegedly started the blaze in the 1100 block of West Ninth Street, next to a structure. Stabile walked away, and the witness grabbed a garden hose to attempt and put the fire out. A man passing by ran over to assist, when Stabile returned, this time with his girlfriend's 6-year-old daughter, who rode a scooter.
    "We believe she would have been close somewhere in the area," said Lt. Mike Budreau of Medford police. "Perhaps unattended while he did this. That's one of the things we're trying to seek witnesses for."
    Another man started chasing Stabile while calling 911. A detective with Medford police, who was in the area, spotted the foot chase and ran after Stabile, too.
    Stabile was caught and arrested in the Jackson County Community Justice parking lot, 1101 W. Main St. The fire he set spread to a fence and an outbuilding on West Eighth Street before responding fire crews put it out.
    Budreau said Stabile, originally from Georgia, was released from prison in June. He has no other known connections to the area. Police believe the arson was a random act and that the arsonist was not targeting the site for a specific reason.
    This is the second arrest of an arson suspect in a week. Debra Johns, 57, is being charged with fires she allegedly set at the Jackson County Jail, Hawthorne Park and a Medford hardwood supply store on July 23 and 24.
    There are still 19 additional fires Medford police and fire officials say was part of an arson spree that started June 25 with the leveling of a historic fruit packing plant and warehouse at 220 N. Fir St. Whether Johns or Stabile had roles in those fires remains under investigation.
    —I think it's unusual to have one arsonist in our community, and it's even more unusual to have two," Budreau said. "We believe between these two arrests that the arson activity should certainly stop."
    However, police continue their lookout for suspicious fire activity.
    "There could be a third. I mean, there's always a chance," Budreau said. "We're certainly looking to keep our eyes peeled."
    — Ryan Pfeil
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