Bend police still on the hunt for recent arsonists

Governor declares 'Arson Awareness Week'

Bend Police continue to investigate arson cases

BEND, Ore. - Ten people died and more than $12 million of property burned last year in Oregon due to arson, officials noted as Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber declared this week Arson Awareness Week." But what's the status of the recent arson cases in Bend?

There are still no suspects or arrests in the two-month-old serial arson case that started at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Bend in the wee hours of the morning.

The fire is just one of three recent arson cases that remain unsolved, despite efforts by Bend police and fire investigators.

"Whether it's an animal or a person, really, those types of incidents have a huge repercussions on families and communities," said police Lt. Chris Carney.

Carney is referring to is arson, and Bend has been affected by it recently -- from an arson fire at a former sobriety residence for women in December, to dumpsters on fire in early March, to a series of seven fires in downtown Bend that destroyed a church and a second building, two detached garages and two parked cars.

And they are still counting on the public to help crack the cases.

"It's just a simple little tip that somebody is not thinking of," Carney said. "And of course, we always have our evidence collection, and analysis still comes in. So we are really waiting for that new information that leads us down the new direction to find the suspect."

But with most arson attacks occurring at night and on weekends, with few people around, they can be difficult to solve, including the three recent cases.

"At this point, yes, because the evidence that we have initially hasn't obviously presented itself with, 'Boy, there's the suspect -- let's go arrest him.' But they are not impossible to solve," Carney said.

The cases are sometimes put on the back burner for more extreme cases that include homicide or sexual assaults.

On Wednesday, the Bend Fire Department and the Forest Service went to Eastmont Community School in northeast Bend to teach first-graders about fire safety.

"The biggest percentage of fires we respond to are juvenile-set," said Deputy Fire Marshal Susie Maniscalco. "So this gives children that one-on-one educational learning on things they can do to prevent fires."

Police and fire officials want to remind you to keep from unintentionally giving someone the resources for fires to ignite.

"Just really be aware -- take a look around your business, around your homes," Carney said. "See what types of things you can clean stuff up, or somebody doesn't have some readily available source to cause this type of damage."

Bend police still have a $20,000 reward offering for any information that will lead to an arrest or conviction of whoever is responsible for these fires. 

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