Firefighters worry spike in homeless camp fires could be arson

PORTLAND, Ore. – Firefighters say they have seen a spike in fires at homeless camps and are concerned some of them may have been set intentionally.

Portland Fire said they’ve responded to about 15-20 fires in homeless camps in the last two months.

The latest occurred at about 7 a.m. Thursday at Northwest 19th Avenue and Thurman Street. No one was hurt but firefighters fear someone will be soon.

“Our level of concern is increasing,” said Lt. Rich Chatman of Portland Fire & Rescue.

Investigators are digging deeper into the recent string of fires, many of them at camps that appeared to have long-term roots in Southeast Portland.

“There’s been enough of these fires in a short period of time that our fire investigators are suspicious. They are looking into these individually. That means going back and comparing some of the evidence,” Chatman said.

Firefighters have not said there’s a reason to believe these potential arsons were set by the same person or multiple people, but they are now taking a closer look. 


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