Firefighters say arson is to blame for three recent N.E. Portland fires

PORTLAND, Ore. - Three recent fires the Portland Fire Bureau has put out have been ruled arson.

Two fires were reported early Monday morning, while the third happened a week ago. All of the fires were within blocks of each other in Northeast Portland.

At about 3:45 a.m., firefighters responded to a vacant house at 308 N.E. Monroe St. Flames could be seen shooting out of the roof when they arrived four minutes later.

The house had already been badly burned in August by a massive fire in an adjacent apartment complex that was under construction. Because it was already so badly burned and because of unsafe conditions, the crew decided to fight the fire from the outside.

It took about 30 minutes to put it out.

Neighbors said they had seen transients inside from time to time, but nobody was found in the house.

Just over an hour later, there was another fire reported at 2621 N.E. 7th Ave. at a a vacant gas station. When crews arrived, they saw smoke and found furniture stored there that was on fire, but it hadn't spread.

That fire was under control within 10 minutes, and crews again ruled it arson.

Firefighters responded to an early morning house fire near the intersection of North Vancouver and Fargo on Feb. 17. That has also been ruled arson.

Investigators say the similarities between all three fires is startling. But they can't say if all fires were set by the same person or people.

"If you see activity that seems suspicious in a home that's not supposed to be occupied, we're really encouraging neighbors to get out there and say something," said Portland Fire Bureau spokesman Lt. Rich Chatman.

No one was hurt in any of the fires.