La Pine man jailed in arson that destroyed his home

Explosion, fire prompted neighbor notifications

La PINE, Ore. - A 38-year-old La Pine homeowner was arrested early Wednesday on a first-degree arson charge, accused in an explosion and fire that destroyed his home late Tuesday night, authorities said.

Deschutes County sheriff’s 911 dispatchers received a call shortly after 11 p.m. of a house fire in the 16000 block of Cassidy Drive, Sgt. William Bailey said. It was reported there was an explosion and flames coming from the living room windows.

Deputies arrived on scene within about three minutes and notified neighbors about possible evacuations, then began investigating the fire’s cause.

The homeowner, Leonard Gothberg 38, arrived on scene later, Bailey said.

“During the investigation, deputies obtained statements and evidence that led them to believe the cause of the fire was arson,” the sergeant said in a news release. Detectives said the home appeared to be a total loss.

Bailey said Gothberg agreed to go to the sheriff's office in Bend to be interviewed. He was arrested there early Wednesday and booked into the county jail on a first-degree arson charge.

Gothberg remained held Wednesday afternoon on $50,000 bail after his arraignment on the initial charge. He is due back in court next Wednesday for arraignment on an expected indictment.

Bailey said the investigation is continuing, with assistance from Oregon State Police and the La Pine Rural Fire District.

Deschutes County property tax records show Gothberg paid $135,000 in April 2015 for the 1,462-square-foot home, which was built in 2005. The tax records showed it had a current assessed value of $178,000.

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