A man alleged to have set forest fires in a remote area of Oregon on July 25 was apprehended by three local residents and tied to a tree until law enforcement officers arrived.
Curry County Sheriff John Ward said that federal, state and county police initially responded to a call from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management employee who reported a man for setting wildfires in the forest around 25 miles northwest of Grants Pass.
The employee stated that the man was walking along a gravel road and setting fires, but did not describe the method used in detail.
Fire crews, three helicopters from the Oregon Department of Forestry and local residents immediately responded and were able to get two fires under control, while three other residents located and detained the suspect who was on the road near the fires.
According to a statement from the sheriff, the suspect started acting aggressively toward the three residents and had to be restrained.
“It was reported that the suspect became very combative with the three residents and had to be tied to a tree to subdue him,” Ward said. “An ambulance crew was asked to respond due to some injuries that the suspect apparently received from falling down.”
The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Trennon Smith of Veneta, Oregon, was transported to a hospital and treated for his injuries.
He was then held at the Curry County jail on charges of arson and reckless burning. Bond was set at $100,000.
CBS News reported that the area where the fires started is not accessible to the public. The remote area contains a few lodges used by rafters and fishermen.
Ward credited the cooperation between the different departments for quickly extinguishing the fires.
“The cooperation and partnership between all agencies when something like this occur is remarkable,” Ward said.
The sheriff added that the fire, which only burned an acre of forest, would have cut off firefighters’ escape routes had they not acted fast enough. “The quick actions on getting the fires out most certainly averted a catastrophe and saved lives. If the fires had not been contained and if they got out of control, they could have blocked all the residents and visitors from having an escape route,” he explained.
According to a press release by the National Interagency Coordination Center, human activity is the most common cause of wildfires, causing over 34,000 so far this year.
Fires continue to be a problem in the northwest region.
According to a live map of fires from around the country, Oregon currently has 37 active fires at the time of this writing.
Most of the fires are situated in the south of the state near the California border.
The sheriff’s office said they are still investigating this case.