Portland police arrested a man for starting a fire with a molotov cocktail and released him, only to take him into custody again the next day for allegedly setting six more fires.
Domingo Lopez Jr., 45, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on Sunday evening after police discovered a blaze set on the side of a freeway. A witness identified the suspect, who admitted to police that he’d set the fire.
Lopez Jr. used a molotov cocktail, a plastic bottle with a wick, to ignite the blaze. He was charged with reckless burning and disorderly conduct in the second degree, and was released without bail.
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On Monday, less than 12 hours after the suspected arsonist was originally booked, police detained and charged the 45-year-old man once again, after discovering six small fires, also set on the side of a freeway. Firefighters put out three of the fires, and locals passing by extinguished the other three.
Lopez Jr. was found walking on the freeway and police found a lighter on him they believe he used to start the fires. He received six additional citations for reckless burning and is undergoing a mental health evaluation.
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) September 14, 2020
No one was injured and no structures were damaged due to the fires, but Oregon is currently battling wildfires that have “substantially destroyed” multiple towns, according to the governor. Thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes and numerous structures have burned to the ground.
Washington and California have also been fighting wildfires that are razing thousands of acres of land. 35 people have been killed.
As well as Lopez Jr., four other people have been arrested on suspicion of starting fires on the West Coast. Meanwhile, one Southern California fire that has destroyed over 10,000 acres of land was reportedly started by actions at a couple’s gender-reveal party.
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The numerous arrests have led to speculation on social media that the fires, which many Democrats have blamed on climate change, are politically motivated and being set on purpose. These claims have been dismissed by the FBI as “conspiracy theories” and Facebook has already taken to policing any posts that suggest the blazes are being set by any politically-motivated groups.
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