The Almeda fire in Oregon that has so far killed two is now under investigation as a potential arson attack after a body was discovered near the start of the blaze.
Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara announced Thursday a criminal investigation has been opened into the cause of the fire saying he believes the circumstances around the fire are ‘suspicious’.
Investigators are looking into the possible connection between the blaze and the death of an unidentified individual, whose body was found near the origin of the fire.
This comes as the National Weather Service (NWS) revealed a staggering 87 percent of all wildfires that have ravaged America this year were caused by humans.
The Almeda fire in Oregon that has so far killed two is now under investigation as a potential arson attack after a body was discovered near the start of the blaze. Residents survey the remains of their home in Talent, Oregon, from the blaze Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara announced Thursday a criminal investigation has been
A displaced couple in Phoenix, Oregon, after the blaze tore through homes. A criminal investigation has been opened into the cause of the ‘suspicious’ fire
‘We have good reason to believe that there was a human element to it,’ O’Meara said of the Almeda fire Thursday.
‘We’re going to pursue it as a criminal investigation until we have reason to believe that it was otherwise.’
O’Meara did not elaborate on the suspicions of authorities but said police are working alongside the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office on the investigation ‘including the resulting death that occurred nearby along the Greenway.’
Sheriff Nathan Sickler confirmed Wednesday that a body had been discovered around a mile from the origin point of the fire along the Bear Creek Greenway in north Ashland.
Two people have so far been killed by the blaze, although authorities warned the true death toll is likely to be higher.
The identities of the victims and the circumstances around their deaths are not yet clear.
The fire started in Ashland Tuesday before spreading across more than 3,000 acres and destroying 600 homes in surrounding communities.
Reports that the cause of the fire could be human related come as the NWS revealed that almost nine in 10 wildfires across the US in 2020 were caused by humans.
A haze from wildfire smoke lingers over the gutted Medford Estates neighborhood in the aftermath of the Almeda fire in Medford, Oregon
Investigators are looking into the possible connection between the blaze and the death of an unidentified individual, whose body was found near the origin of the fire
A charred car sits in the driveway of a neighborhood devastated by the Almeda fire in Phoenix
Homes are reduced to rubble in Talent after the fire ripped through neighborhoods. Oregon officials denied reports spreading on social media that fires have been deliberately started by far-left group Antifa and far-right group Proud Boys
Stark data showed that 36,383 of the 41,599 fires that have ripped through the nation in the first nine months of the year were started by humans, burning a total of 2,510,743 acres.
California has been hardest-hit by human-caused fires, with a total of 7,072 as of September 10.
Texas was second with 4,170, followed by North Carolina with 1,889, Florida with 1,779 and Arizona with 1,552.
Despite the prevalence of human-caused fires, authorities in Oregon have waded in on rumors that wildfires in the state have been deliberately started by extremist political groups.
Unsubstantiated reports have been surfacing on social media that the fires have been started by far-left group Antifa and far-right group Proud Boys
This comes as the National Weather Service (NWS) revealed a staggering 87 percent of all wildfires that have ravaged America this year were caused by humans
Officials denied the reports and told residents to dismiss the rumors spread by unofficial sources.
‘Remember when we said to follow official sources only,’ the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon posted on social media.
‘Remember when we said rumors make this already difficult incident even harder? Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON.’
Medford Police Department also wrote in a Facebook post that officers had not arrested anyone connected to the Proud Boys or Antifa for arson and warned of a fake post using the department’s logo claiming five Proud Boys had been arrested for arson in 2018.
The quashing of rumors comes as the state is being ravaged by the wildfires that have so far killed four as well as widespread unrest as protests mount calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality across America.