Arrests made in Bear Creek Greenway fires
In the span of 12 hours, Medford police have arrested three individuals accused in separate fires along the Bear Creek Greenway.
Alberto Salcedo-Jimenez, 37, and Terin Dante Hummel, 29, each face felony arson charges accusing them of setting separate fires at camps along the bike path near Midway Road.
A third suspect was arrested before midnight Thursday on misdemeanor reckless burning charges accusing him of setting a May 18 fire in the 800 block of North Riverside Avenue, according to releases issued by Medford police.
At 8:44 p.m. Wednesday, Salcedo-Jimenez allegedly set fires at three different locations, according to police. More precise information about how close the fires were together and a possible motive were not immediately available.
Medford Fire-Rescue responded to the fire at 8:46 p.m. Wednesday, near the 700 block of Midway Road, after multiple callers — including a jogger on the greenway — called it in, according to agency battalion chief Sean Schmidt.
“Between those different sources, they were all citing different locations,” Schmidt said, adding the initial confusion could just stem from people spotting the flames at different vantage points. “Sometimes, just in translation, that gets mixed up, and can appear like multiple (fires).”
Fire crews arrived on scene at 8:53 p.m. to find a single fire, however, a slow-moving blaze moving through brush that had grown to about 1/4 acre, Schmidt said. Firefighters utilized a single brush rig to make short work of the flames. It did not spread to any nearby structures, and no one was injured.
“Twenty minutes later, (firefighters) were returning,” Schmidt said.
Police also responded to the scene when they received information about an adult male wearing a white T-shirt seen near the fire when it ignited and “fleeing the area,” according to a news release. Responding officers found Salcedo-Jimenez running from the fire area, according to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.
“He had his shirt off, and he was dripping with sweat,” Budreau said. “He was carrying his T-shirt, that was white in color.”
Officers detained and interviewed Salcedo-Jimenez and “determined he was responsible for the fire,” Budreau said. Police said they would not disclose any alleged motives. Budreau added Salcedo-Jimenez “likely” used lighters he had with him to start the fires, but additional information was not available.
Salcedo-Jimenez remained in the Jackson County Jail Thursday on a felony charge of first-degree arson, and a misdemeanor charge of second-degree criminal trespassing, according to jail records. His bail was set at $22,500.
At about 9:20 a.m. Thursday, detectives were continuing the fire investigation when police say they spotted another plume of smoke.
At a nearby camp, police they found evidence that Hummel “had lit some property belonging to someone else, and the fire got out of control,” according to the release.
Police took Hummel into custody “after a short scuffle,” and arrested him on charges of first-degree arson, reckless burning and resisting arrest.
As of midday Thursday, the fire allegedly set by Hummel was still active, but under control.
Arrest also made in last week’s Greenway fire
Police also arrested a suspect they allege started the May 18 greenway fire near the 800 block of North Riverside Avenue.
Colin Duff, 26, remained Thursday in jail on misdemeanor counts of reckless burning and reckless endangerment, jail records show. Police used video surveillance to track him down, Budreau said.
Officers alleged Duff was camping and burning trash, which led to the flames getting out of control. Two engines and a brush truck responded to that fire, which burned nearby stacks of wooden pallets, old tires, and tents.
Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanpfeil.