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Arson suspect due in court Wednesday

Gavel, with defocussed law books behind.

The man accused of causing the April 12 fire at the Carson-Pacific Pride commercial fueling station in Medford is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court.

John Charles Salmons has been charged on two counts of first-degree arson, five counts of first-degree criminal mischief and one misdemeanor count of recklessly endangering another person, according to information filed by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

Salmons, 49, of no reported address, had his bail set at $500,000 Monday. The security order also stated that Salmons can’t be in possession of incendiary devices or attempt to make contact with alleged victims.

The fire, at 936 S. Central Ave., resulted in an oil spill, environmental damage and destruction of four adjacent buildings.

Salmons, who remained Tuesday in Jackson County Jail, was arrested April 16 for a probation violation after a Medford police officer allegedly saw him with a warming fire on the bike path in the 1400 block of Biddle Road. Police named him as a suspect in the Carson-Pacific Pride fire Friday.

Salmons was convicted of arson for an incident that occurred in the city Aug. 1, 2021, according to previous reports.

Police said they later connected him to the Pacific Pride fire, adding that video surveillance played a key role in determining he was a suspect.

A substantial cleanup effort of the fire area and oil that ended up in Bear Creek is ongoing. Eventual repair of a portion of South Central Avenue is required as well because of the oil spill.

It has been estimated that at least 20,000 gallons of petroleum products, mostly lubricant, either evaporated or were released as a result of the fire, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has reported.

Medford City Council passed a local emergency declaration last week. Seven businesses had occupied the buildings that were destroyed as a result of the fire. Other businesses in the vicinity were shut down until cleanup reached the point that access to the businesses could be restored.