A Utah man was indicted on three counts of arson in connection with three fires that burned south of Bend late last month.
Christopher Glen Wilson, 37, of Salt Lake City, is accused of starting the McKay Fire, which burned approximately 1,219 acres near La Pine, and two smaller fires along U.S. Highway 97 between Lava Butte and La Pine on Aug. 29. The two smaller fires were contained to less than 2 acres.
Wilson was arrested Sept. 3 by Oregon State Police troopers, who spotted him driving a stolen car on Interstate 84 near Ontario. He was booked into the Malheur County Jail for unauthorized use of a vehicle.
OSP Capt. Bill Fugate said law enforcement had been on the lookout for the blue Hyundai Sonata that Wilson was driving when he was arrested. The car had been spotted earlier driving away from one of the fires along Highway 97, Fugate said, and had been reported stolen in Idaho shortly before Wilson’s arrest.
On Monday, a Deschutes County grand jury indicted Wilson on three counts of first-degree arson and one charge of reckless endangerment. He is currently being held at the Malheur County Jail, but will be transported to Bend for arraignment in Deschutes County Circuit Court, Fugate said.
Fugate said law enforcement officials are investigating whether Wilson is connected to fires at other locations around the Northwest. The vehicle he was driving may have looked out of place on Forest Service roads — the blue Hyundai has California plates, and a black and yellow “U.S. Army” sticker in the rear window — and anyone who might have seen it near a wildfire is encouraged to contact OSP at 503-375-3555, Fugate said.
First-degree arson is a class A felony in Oregon, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
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