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Pot charge dropped in alleged arson that caused Sams Valley wildfire

A Rogue River man will not face an illegal marijuana charge surrounding an explosion that allegedly started a Sams Valley wildfire last summer that injured a firefighter, but he could face a Measure 11 prison sentence.

Michael A. Cashmareck, 24, was charged in Jackson County Circuit Court with first-degree arson and third-degree assault surrounding the East Evans fire. The wildfire started Aug. 2, allegedly from an explosion at Cashmareck’s lab while he was making a marijuana extract, according to a court document filed Monday by the Jackson County District Attorney’s office.

The new indictment drops a grand jury’s previous indictment of marijuana possession and several counts of first-degree arson incident to manufacturing a cannabinoid extract — a separate crime under Oregon law from first-degree arson.

First-degree arson incident to manufacturing a cannabinoid extract and first-degree arson are both Class A felonies, and the new charge of first-degree arson typically carries a mandatory minimum 90-month prison sentence under Oregon’s Measure 11.

The new arson charge accuses Cashmareck of causing “a fire or explosion” that caused property damage valued at greater than $50,000.

Shortly after Cashmareck’s arrest, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said Cashmareck was making the marijuana extract known as butane honey oil, which involves flammable butane. Police said Cashmareck was in the volatile “post-extraction” process that involves evaporating butane from the mixture when the explosion was reported in the 18700 block of East Evans Creek Road.

The East Evans fire rapidly evolved from structure fire into a fast-spreading wildfire that prompted Level 3 “Go” evacuations in neighborhoods surrounding East Evans Creek Road, and quickly grew to 155 acres. The wildfire was contained in a little more than a day using Oregon Department of Forestry resources that included 15 aircraft and hundreds of personnel. One firefighter was airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries while working in difficult terrain overnight on the fire’s northeastern flank.

Cashmareck has been held in the Jackson County Jail since Aug. 2 of last year, jail records show. According to court records, his next court appearance is a plea change hearing scheduled for Sept. 15.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

File photo of the where the East Evans fire started on Aug. 2, 2019 in Sams Valley. Jackson County Sheriff's Office says an explosion allegedly caused while making the marijuana extract butane honey oil. JCSO photo.
Michael A Cashmareck faces felony arson charges accusing him of starting the East Evans fire with a suspected marijuana extract lab. Jackson County Sheriff's Office photo.