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Man arrested for starting Royal Avenue apartment fire

Arson suspect was armed with handgun
Medford Fire Department personnel are shown Tuesday night at a fire at an apartment building in the 700 block of Royal Avenue. Robert Jameson O’Neill, 46, was arrested for arson. Medford Fire Department photo

A Medford man was arrested on suspicion of intentionally starting the fire Tuesday evening in his residence at an apartment building in the 700 block of Royal Avenue.

Robert Jameson O’Neill, 46, was “armed with a handgun and had lit his apartment on fire,” said Medford Police Sgt. Mark Cromwell.

O’Neill surrendered without incident and was arrested for first-degree arson, first-degree criminal mischief and a misdemeanor, second-degree disorderly conduct.

Police medically cleared him to be taken to Jackson County Jail, where O’Neill is being held for $30,000 bail.

The blaze required what Medford Fire Department described Wednesday as a full structure response that included multiple engines, other equipment and supervisory personnel as well as the fire marshal.

Officers and fire personnel worked together closely at the scene to ensure the safety of residents and first responders, Cromwell said.

Medford Fire Department continues its own investigation of the blaze, which was mostly contained to the one unit that had been occupied by O’Neill.

Some fire personnel needed to work through the ceiling of the apartment directly below to keep the blaze from spreading, however.

Residents in other nearby units were evacuated during the firefighting effort but able to return once the firefighters were through, said Fire Marshal Chase Browning.