CROOKED RIVER RANCH, Ore. - A 48-year-old man living in a Crooked River Ranch home owned by his ex-wife has been arrested on a felony first-degree arson charge, accused of setting a weekend fire that destroyed the home, authorities said Tuesday.
Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue crews were called around 4 p.m. Sunday to a reported fire at a double-wide manufactured home in the 8100 block of Southwest High Cone Drive, Assistant Fire Chief Sean Hartley said.
Crews arrived to find fire and smoke coming from a front window and resident James John Winterholer III outside, Hartley said. Winterholer told fire crews there was no one else in the home, which they confirmed through a search as firefighters put out the blaze and ventilated the remaining heat and smoke.
Overhaul work continued into the late evening to find any hot spots, Hartley said, and a fire crew remained on the scene overnight to make sure the fire was out.
While there were no injuries, there was extensive fire damage to the living room, as well as heat and smoke damage throughout the rest of the home, Hartley said. A motor home parked beside the house was not damaged, nor were several other vehicles and outbuildings on the property. Winterholer declined Red Cross disaster assistance.
The home, owned by Winterholer's ex-wife and valued at about $50,000, was a total loss, while the loss in contents was estimated at $10,000, Hartley said.
Mutual aid assistance was provided by Redmond and Cloverdale firefighters, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and Central Oregon Public Safety Chaplaincy.
An investigation revealed the fire was arson, Hartley said, and Winterholer was arrested by deputies and lodged in the county jail in Madras. A judge set bail at Monday’s initial court hearing at $250,000. Winterholer is due back in court Thursday after an expected grand jury indictment.
Court records show Winterholer was arrested in Jefferson County in September on charges of second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon and harassment, accused of striking a male victim with a lawn edger.
Another court record shows a divorce judgment was issued in Douglas County in October involving Winterholer, who listed the High Cone Drive home as his residence, and his wife, who listed a Roseburg address. The document listed the CRR home and an adjacent property as owned by Winterholer's wife, while he owns a property in Twin Falls, Idaho.