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Ashland man sentenced for Emigrant Lake arson

Vance Phuc Nguyen, 46, of Ashland, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court to first-degree arson and was sentenced to serve four years in prison with three years of post-prison supervision.

On Sept. 8, 2020, Nguyen set his vehicle on fire near Emigrant Lake “as the Almeda fire raged,” the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release Thursday. “A truck from the Greensprings Rural Fire District that was on its way to assist with the Almeda fire, diverted to the vehicle fire.”

Nguyen admitted to police that he used gasoline on the fire, which was set approximately 220 yards from homes.

If the vehicle fire hadn’t been extinguished as swiftly as it was, “this could have ignited a pretty good-sized wildland fire very quickly,” Greensprings Rural Fire Chief Gene Davies said in an earlier account. “It was a fully involved vehicle, flames probably about 10 feet.”

The Almeda fire destroyed more than 2,500 homes within a 13-mile path from Ashland to a point south of Medford.