Fire officials credit Portland community members for helping catch suspected teen arsonists

“This exact case is a really good example of where the public actually came forth with a lot of information.”

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Just weeks after KOIN 6 first reported a series of arsons throughout Southeast Portland’s Mt Tabor, suspects have been arrested and arson investigators are detailing how they found those they believe to be responsible.

Officials credit much of it to community members.

Jason Andersen, a senior arson investigator with Portland Fire and Rescue, says it was hard to get evidence in this case with a lack of security cameras or witnesses inside the park. Instead, he credits neighbors and locals who stepped up to watch out and document whatever they could for officials.

When investigators first learned of a series of fires set at Mt Tabor, they still seemed too small to pinpoint a connection between them.

“Mt Tabor was a very interesting case to start with. There had been a few fires that the fire department had responded to. They appeared to be a bit smaller in size,” said Andersen. “There wasn’t enough consistency or predictability initially to really identify there was a significant problem going on.”

Locals also started to take notice of what was happening.

“I came into the park thinking there were five fires,” said one woman who tipped off investigators and wished to remain anonymous. “After speaking to the investigators, they also thought there were five fires.”

But upon walking all of the park’s trails, she realized the problem was worse