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Another Medford arson suspect caught, charged

Another arson suspect is behind bars after witnesses attacked a blaze the man allegedly set Thursday in downtown Medford and then helped chase him down.

Gregory William Stabile, 29, was in the Jackson County Jail on Friday on charges of first- and second-degree arson, criminal mischief and a parole violation from a past fourth-degree assault conviction.

He is being held without bail, according to jail records.

Medford police say a witness spotted Stabile as he set a fire at 5 p.m. Thursday in the 1100 block of West Ninth Street, next to a structure. Stabile walked away, and the witness grabbed a garden hose to put the fire out. A man passing by ran over to assist, police said, and then Stabile returned to the scene, 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 allegedly set spread to a fence and an outbuilding on West Eighth Street before fire crews arrived and put it out.

Budreau said Stabile, originally from Georgia, was released from prison in June. Records show he had been convicted of first-degree forgery.

Police said they believe the arson was a random act and that he was not targeting the site for a specific reason.

Stabile is the second person arrested for setting fires in a week. Debra Johns, 57, is accused of setting fires at the Jackson County Jail, Hawthorne Park and a Medford hardwood supply store on July 23 and 24.

In addition to the fires attributed so far to Johns and Stabile, Medford police and fire officials are investigating 19 other fires, part an arson spree that started June 25 with the leveling of a historic fruit-packing plant and warehouse at 220 N. Fir St.

Police are still trying to determine whether Johns or Stabile were involved in any of those fires.

"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 to watch 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."

Anyone with information about the Stabile case should contact Detective Jim Williams at 541-774-2230.

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

Another Medford arson suspect caught, charged