Seven fires that broke out within minutes in downtown Bend, heavily damaging an historic church and other structures and cars, appear to be the work of a serial arsonist, police said late Thursday as they announced a reward of up to $10,000 in hopes of finding those responsible.
Bend police and fire investigators are working with the Oregon State Fire Marshal, Oregon State Police investigators and crime lab, the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said Lt. Chris Carney. They are processing the scenes for evidence, and investigators on Thursday were able to enter the Trinity Episcopal Church at 469 NW Wall St. after it was deemed structurally safe.
“At this point of the investigation, it is believed that the fires were intentionally set and all seven fires are believed to have been caused by the same person or persons,” Carney wrote.
A reward of up to $10,000 was offered for information that leads to the arrest of those responsible for the blazes that struck within a four-block area shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday, bringing fire crews from across Central Oregon to the southern end of downtown and Bend’s Old Town District.
Also, the first damage estimate was released late Thursday, putting losses to Trinity Episcopal’s St. Helens Hall at 231 NW Idaho Ave. at $250,000, Carney said, adding that none of the damaged structures had sprinklers or fire alarm systems. Other damage figures were still being compiled.
The other fires struck two detached garages and two parked vehicles along St. Helens Place, near the church, and a wood pile on NW Jefferson Place.