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Suspect in Pacific Pride fire on trial this week

Defendant accused of first-degree arson, multiple counts of criminal mischief

John Charles Salmons, 49, who is accused of causing the massive fire April 12 at the Carson-Pacific Pride commercial fueling station in Medford, is receiving the speedy trial he requested.

The trial is scheduled to run through this week with Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Ravassipour presiding. Jury selection was completed Monday.

Charges against Salmons include two counts of first-degree arson, six counts of first-degree criminal mischief and two misdemeanor counts: reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal mischief, according to the grand jury indictment.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The fire Salmons is alleged to have caused at the fueling station, 936 S. Central Ave., damaged the station and destroyed four adjacent commercial buildings. A woman had to be rescued by first-responders from one of the nearby buildings that caught fire that evening.

It was estimated that more than 20,000 gallons of petroleum products escaped from the station and flowed through the neighborhood, into storm drains and ended up spilling into Bear Creek. Some residue made its way into the Rogue River.

Birds, mostly mallards and Canada geese, were covered in oil. Some of the birds were rescued.

Salmons was arrested April 16 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 Salmons as a suspect in the Carson-Pacific Pride fire after investigators reviewed surveillance video from the location.

Salmons was convicted of second-degree arson in August 2021 near the intersection of Biddle Road and Crater Lake Highway, and he received a sentence of probation in May. He has appealed that judgment of 180 days in jail with credit for time served.

If Salmons is found guilty, the prosecution will ask that the defendant’s past involvement in similar cases — and the April charges occurring while he was on probation — be taken into consideration during sentencing.

Reach reporter Terri Harber at tharber@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4468.