A man who allegedly started two brush fires while fleeing from police in the Denman Wildlife Area Sunday afternoon is in the Jackson County Jail, charged with two counts of first-degree arson.

Aaron Jay Shelton, 52, is also held on two misdemeanor counts of reckless burning, second-degree disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer, according to jail records. His bail Monday was set at $57,500.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office responded to a call of suspicious activity at 2:14 p.m. Sunday, according to Sgt. Julie Denney. The caller reportedly had seen a man striking concrete with a knife near the intersection of Leigh Way and Agate Road. Responding deputies arrived and saw Shelton, recognizing him from previous encounters, Denney said. Shelton ran west into the Denman Wildlife Area, with the deputies pursuing on foot. 

"As they followed him, they saw him stop and some smoke appear, and so then they started chasing him," Denney said.

Shelton allegedly lit the fire with a cigarette lighter, then continued running west and then south. He allegedly lit a second fire, and was reportedly trying to light a third fire when deputies caught him.

"The grass was just so dry out there," Denney said. "Luckily, the (Jackson County Fire District 3) fire station was just right down the road. They were able to get there really quickly."

Fire department officials were not immediately available for comment with response details. Shelton does not have any felony criminal history in the state, according to court records.

— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.